Baron joined Only A Game's Karen Given.
KG: Zach, first, tell us a bit more about how Durant is viewed by most fans today.
ZB: Sure. He is viewed as a nice guy to the point where Nike tried to do a campaign where the campaign was "KD is not nice," because everyone was so acquainted with what a good guy he was that they felt compelled to make a joke about it.
KG: Durant — one of the best basketball players on the planet — says he can’t watch NBA basketball when he’s not playing it. Why not?
ZB: He hopes both teams lose. He's a very, very, very competitive basketball player and he, even at home, won't watch basketball because he just — he hopes guys miss shots. He said he felt bad about it, but that's how he feels.
KG: Durant was once engaged, but it didn’t work out. He told you he wonders if he’ll be alone forever. But he also recently moved out of the home he shared with his friends. Is he just happier by himself?
ZB: I think it's about growing up. You know, I mean this is a guy who is just kind of, at 26, is trying to figure it out. And part of that is maybe getting out of an engagement that was a little premature and part of that is shedding the dorm-room nature of living with a bunch of your friends.
KG: Durant is interviewed almost daily, but he told you that it was only three years ago that he started to feel comfortable, “like I was smart enough to join a conversation with somebody.” Did that surprise you?
ZB: A little bit, but less when you hear how he grew up, which is in D.C., with his mom, his brother; they didn't have a lot, they moved around a ton. He didn't have a lot of friends. So he was a lonely kid: went to four different high schools, went to college for one year, then Seattle for one year, and then Oklahoma City since then.
So this is a guy who hasn't really lived in one place for any amount of time until he gets to Oklahoma City. And he hasn't had a lot of life experience outside of basketball. And, you know, the way he tells it, it just took a lot of time for him to realize that he had value beyond a jump shot.
KG: Durant will become a free agent in 2016. There has been speculation that he’ll return to Washington, D.C., to play for the Wizards. Does that seem very likely to you?
The way he tells it, it just took a lot of time for him to realize that he had value beyond a jump shot.Zach Baron, GQ
He didn't grow up super happy there. He was lonely there. And now when he goes back, it's really weird because all these people that weren't that nice to him or he didn't know show up and are like "Hey, man, remember me? What's up?" You know, he said he goes back for family reunions and basically hides out in the hotel because there's just too much energy around him.
KG: As you note in your story, there's a theory that Kevin Durant is too nice to win an NBA championship, that he doesn’t have the stone-cold-basketball-killer instincts of Michael Jordan. What do you think?
ZB: He says in the piece, if he knocks you over on the court, he's not picking you up. That guy is deadly. And, I think stylistically, he's maybe a little bit more abstract than some of these guys like Kobe [Bryant] or Jordan who look like they want to rip your heart out at all times. But just because he's a little abstracted does not at all mean he lacks for competitive fire.
This segment aired on February 21, 2015.