When did being an NBA superstar become a bad thing?
According to The Oklahoman, Lakers coach Phil Jackson thinks Kevin Durant gets to the free-throw line "easy and often" because of his "superstar" status, but the Oklahoma City forward disputes Jackson's claim.
"That's a part of my game, getting to the free-throw line and being aggressive," Durant told the paper. "If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that's just taking away from how I play. That's disrespectful to me."
Kevin Garnett shares Jackson's sentiment. The Celtics forward was fined $25,000 several weeks ago for comments he made about Durant after the C's faced the Thunder on March 31.
"I thought we were playing Michael [bleeping] Jordan tonight, the way he was getting the whistle," Garnett told reporters after the game. "Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team."
Durant went 15-for-15 from the free-throw line and led the Thunder to a 109-104 victory over the Celtics at the TD Garden. The three-year veteran feels Garnett's postgame comments have led others to question how Durant is treated by NBA officials.
"Ever since KG said something, everybody's been questioning how I get to the line," Durant said. "I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don't even want to use no foul language."
Lakers players did not give Durant the "superstar" treatment in the regular season. Durant averaged only 6.0 free-throw attempts per contest in the four regular-season meetings between the Lakers and Thunder, his third-lowest total against any opponent.
Jackson's statement could motivate Durant in his first foray into the postseason, but this season's NBA scoring champion thinks the comments will have no effect on how referees call the first-round series.
"If the refs pay attention to that and change how they call things because of that, that’s terrible," Durant said. "That's terrible to the game of basketball and to us. If that happens, then [coach] Scotty [Brooks] could talk, too. Or any other coach could talk, too, just so the refs could switch everything up. But I doubt they do that. They're smarter than that, and they have more skills than that as refs. So I don't really worry about it too much."
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