“I immediately thought about Richard Sherman's interview, and the difference between the two (Durant's and Sherman's) was striking,” Whaley said.
“Durant's statement definitely showed his humility given the atmosphere we see in sports these days. Not to take anything from Richard Sherman, but it definitely contrasts quite significantly to what Kevin said and how he said it. Both are huge moments.”
Whaley, 33, said he has given the invocation at three Thunder games over the last three seasons.
Like Williams, he said he wasn't surprised by Durant's comments. Rather, the star athlete's remarks seemed to add more credence to his reputation as one of the more humble leaders in the sports world.
Reactions to Burke
Whaley said he wasn't offended by Burke's response to Durant, though he heard that others were upset.
On Jan. 30, ESPN issued a statement from Burke, in which she explained her response to Durant.
“He just took me by surprise with his reaction — not because he's a believer, I'm a believer,” Burke said in her prepared statement. “It was an incredible demonstration of humility in the context of what has been a truly spectacular stretch.”
Like Whaley, another Thunder fan, the Rev. Richard Stillwell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Walters, said he didn't think Burke slighted Durant or Christianity in general.
“My perception on that was that maybe she was a little surprised by his answer, but she gave him an opportunity to say more. I think people are too critical,” Stillwell said.
Stillwell, 45, said he posted some comments about the interview on his Facebook page because he was encouraged by Durant's faith declaration.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we're called to honor and glorify Him in every area of our life. Kevin Durant has been given a tremendous platform to do that,” Stillwell said. “She (Burke) gave him the opportunity to take credit for himself, and he deflected it to the Lord.
“I just think he's been a tremendous ambassador for Christ.”
Williams, founder of NXT Level Solutions, a leadership development and church growth strategy firm, said he is looking forward to more Thunder games with Durant in action.
And he said he hopes people find something else to be upset about besides Burke. He said she is “a true professional” who doesn't deserve criticism.
“As Christians, we have a lot of things to have righteous anger about, and this just isn't one.”
CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writer Mel Bracht