Nike, nonetheless, is getting plenty of material.
Durant has been called for six technical fouls entering Sunday's road game at Portland. Only six players have been called for more. Durant is tied with the notoriously (and admittedly) temperamental Russell Westbrook for the team lead — both of whom have one more than Perkins, who perennially sits atop the penalized list.
Before this season, Durant had never been called for more than five technical fouls. He said the recently adopted “respect for the game” rule has played a factor.
“You can't clap at them,” Durant said of NBA officials. “You can't throw your fist at them or anything like that, or scream.”
Durant added that sometimes he simply disagrees and is voicing his displeasure.
“Some calls I think are good calls. Some calls I think are bad calls,” he said. “They should give me a reward for how many calls I think are good. But they penalize me for the ones I think that aren't. But that's part of the game.”
Westbrook said Durant's new demeanor is only a part of his will to win.
“He wants to win, man,” Westbrook said. “The young Thunder team is out the window. We all old enough now to take ownership in what we do. Kevin's come in this year taking ownership. He feels like he needs to step up and he's doing it.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, so far, hasn't had an issue with the new Durant.
“I don't mind that emotion,” Brooks said. “You just don't want it to come out and be a distraction. But I wouldn't even categorize it as being a distraction. He's a competitor. But he does it in such a smooth way. He doesn't ever seem to get too emotional where it's going to demand the attention of a referee to get a technical.”
What's clear is that fans and analysts who have long asked to see more fire from Durant are starting to get their wish. But it's been a progression that has taken shape naturally as Durant has matured.
“You have to play to your personality,” Brooks said. “You don't want to be a phony on the court and Kevin's not. He's a nice young man that competes and competes fairly and competes the best way that he knows how to.”
Only now Durant is in your face as he dominates.
“I always want him to do that. I be trying to get him to do that most of the time,” said Westbrook. “But most of the time it just be me screaming or doing something crazy. So now it's both of us.”
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