A loud and furious response to a controversial headline has the largest newspaper in Oklahoma backpedaling after it labeled Thunder star Kevin Durant "Mr. Unreliable."
With the second-seeded Thunder down three games to two against the seventh-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoman published this headline Thursday:
— NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) May 1, 2014
The headline accompanies a story by columnist Berry Tramel in which Tramel writes that the Memphis defense has stifled Durant and limited his brilliance.
The likely 2013-14 NBA MVP has underperformed during the first-round series -- he is shooting 40 percent through five games and 33 percent in the past two -- but he is still averaging 28 points and nine rebounds.
Many media members and Thunder fans thought the headline was too harsh:
Durant deserves some criticism in this series but to call him unreliable is a joke.
— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) May 1, 2014
— News 9 (@NEWS9) May 1, 2014
I don't agree that Durant's unreliable. But it shows how rarely criticized he is that one critical headline becomes a story in of itself
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 1, 2014
I think we all wish we could be as unreliable as Kevin Durant.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 1, 2014
Even Durant's mom chimed in with her thoughts:
Typical Oklahoman on Kevin. UNBELIEVABLE!! KEVIN is RELIABLE!!!
— Wanda Pratt (@MamaDurant) May 1, 2014
All this led Oklahoman sports editor Mike Sherman to issue an apology for the headline:
"We take great pride in our headlines about big sporting events and news in Oklahoma. Thursday’s headline in The Oklahoman on Kevin Durant’s performance in the Memphis series missed the mark.
The words were overstated and unduly harsh. The headline and presentation left the impression that we were commenting on Durant’s season, career or even character. We were not. We were referring only to the Memphis series.
The fact the headline and presentation left that impression with so many readers is proof that we failed."
Meanwhile, Durant himself didn't seem to have a big problem with the words:
Durant on The Oklahoman's headline: "That's what they're supposed to write. I didn't come through for the team."
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 1, 2014