Kevin Durant Responds to Criticism from Charles Barkley on Leadership Style

Feb 21, 2024, 3:09 PM ET

Suns star Kevin Durant responded to comments made by Charles Barkley about his leadership style and skills.

Kevin Durant has a long history of not enjoying being in second place.

From being the second best team in his high school to being selected second in the 2007 draft, he has been known to say that he is “tired of being second.” Maybe that’s why he took the time Tuesday to respond to the comments of Charles Barkley during an alternative transmission of the Stars game a TruTV.

“No disrespect to Kevin. Kevin is a follower. He is not a leader. He’s shown it in all his stops,” Barkley said during the game. “(Devin) Booker is a great player too. I think he will have to take the initiative and lead this team of the Suns to the next level… But I said the same thing with Boston: one of your guys has to step up, he has to step up, and for me, for Phoenix to be successful, it has to be Booker.”

After Charles Barkley called him a “follower” during All-Star weekend, Kevin Durant said criticism of his leadership ability comes from those who don’t understand his style. Barry Gossage/Getty Images

Barkley has spoken openly about Durant and his departures from teams. In an interview with CBS in March 2023, Barkley called him “very sensitive” and “part of a generation that cannot be criticized.”

In a wide-ranging interview for Boardroom, a Durant-owned platform, his agent, Rich Kleiman, asked him about Barkley’s most recent comments and his image in the league.

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“I don’t feel like I want people to call me a leader, but I also don’t want them to say I’m not one, because they don’t see what happens behind the scenes of what I talk about or my intentions or the relationships I’ve built with my teammates and my support staff,” Durant said.

He added that those who criticize his leadership “are not being aware” of his leadership style.

On Wednesday, Suns coach Frank Vogel defended Durant on the Bickley & Marotta show.

“He definitely leads by example, but he also speaks up when necessary,” Vogel said. “Not every player is going to be blah, blah,” Vogel said. “Each player leads in his own way. You have to lead within your personality. I learned that as a coach a long time ago, that I can’t go in and try to be Rick Pitino, even though he inspired me to be a coach. Our personalities are different.”

Durant’s personality also came up in the Boardroom interview, in which he acknowledged why those questions about his style arise.

“I’m not as charismatic as my peers; I don’t have a TV-friendly personality like my peers,” she said. “You also have to sell what you’re doing, and I haven’t sold it enough. I don’t feel like I need it, I don’t feel like I need people to call me a leader, but I also don’t feel like I want people to say I’m not one either.”

Durant also addressed the conversation about the “greatest of all time” and whether he should be among those mentioned. Kleiman asked Durant if he was aware that he had an ‘asterisk’ next to his name in NBA history.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished things on the court and I’ve been in situations that the greatest have seen, so I feel like I can have a conversation about basketball with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, not about bragging about how much we’ve done, but What did you see out there and I saw the same things.”

2024-02-21 20:09:00
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