OAKLAND – The mask of burden and misery has faded, a week of frowns replaced by a morning of smiles, suggesting Kevin Durant has moved beyond the noise that hijacked his mind and his game.
And, yes, it helped to get back home and into his sanctuary.
"It's like that kid-like joy that I have when I walk on the court," Durant said after Warriors shootaround on Wednesday. "I just really enjoy being out there. So I try to rid myself of anything that I'm thinking about that has nothing to do with basketball. It's just a great place for me to kind of release it."
In the wake of a week of drama, Kevin Durant explains what he does to get his mind right. pic.twitter.com/9g7N7xLe66— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) November 21, 2018
Durant's previous week began with a very public argument with teammate Draymond Green late in the game against the Clippers on Nov. 12 that was corrosive enough that Warriors management suspended Green for one game. The Warriors lost that game, won the following night at home and then lost all three games on a road trip.
There was no sign of it late Wednesday morning, in the hours before the Warriors would play Durant's former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, at Oracle Arena.
"I feel good," he said. "It feels good to get back into the gym and recalibrate and work on the fundamentals, to get my game back to where I want it to be. It's always good being home.
"Everybody is kind of rejuvenated coming back home and having a day off and going through a good practice. I know everybody is anxious to play tonight and ready to go out there and play as hard as we can and be the best players we can be tonight."
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So pleasant was Durant that he even took time to apologize to a newspaper reporter to whom he had been uncharacteristically curt last week.
Maybe that will translate to better basketball when the Warriors face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
Durant touched on several other topics in an interview that lasted nearly 13 minutes.
On being fined $25,000 by the NBA for cussing out a fan in Dallas: "I knew if somebody posted the video, I knew there was going to be a fine. I just accept it and move on.. . . Stuff happens. I'm not saying what I said was right at all, but you just try to move on from it and understand what that's about. The NBA is just trying to make sure everything is clean."
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On fixing his ailing shot: "I don't think I've been getting a good grip on the ball. My balance hasn't been as good as I want it to be. So, just get back to the fundamentals and follow through and trust the base of my shot and hopefully, I'll start to knock them down. Hopefully me making some 3s can give us some energy as a team."
On the noise and drama that comes with being a sports celebrity: "Just play the game, ignore it as much as you can. We're on social media – all of us, a lot – so you see stuff pop up. And then you hear about stuff. So it's hard to get away from it. So it's just focusing on the games, on your teammates and the environment and just trying to make it about basketball more and more every day."