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Why was Kevin Durant so short with Charles Barkley in opener’s post-game?

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Capital One’s The Match: Champions For Change Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for The Match

If you were shocked at how short Kevin Durant was with Charles Barkley on TNT Tuesday night, you simply haven’t been paying attention. Barkley has been critical of both KD and Kyrie Irving in the off-season ... and it was personal, with the Hall of Famer questioning both players’ integrity.

And as Ian Eagle told David Aldridge of The Athletic recently, Durant has a long memory.

“I think he is going to be a man possessed, personally. I think you guys know this, but he takes names. and he knows what’s been said, who said it, when it was said and it motivates him to no end. Now how that all works.”

So let’s take a look at how Durant answered Barkley’s question on the post-game.

Note that only the Chuckster got short shrift. KD was respectful with others on the panel.

So let’s review what Barkley has said about Durant and Irving, per NBA veteran Etan Thomas reporting for Basketball News. Let’s start with what Barkley said about Durant on “The Dan Patrick Show” back in October.

“To be on my Mount Rushmore, you have to be a bus driver, you have to be that key guy on your team… Until KD wins one in Brooklyn, he won’t be a bus driver to me,” he said, adding that Durant has been a “bus rider” rather than a “bus driver.”

Ouch. If you need reminding, in his three years with the Warriors, Durant won two championships —and Finals MVP’s and might have won a third in 2019 if he hadn’t ruptured his Achilles tendon. Prior to his arrival, Golden State had won one title and blew a 3-1 lead after setting an NBA record for regular season wins. Barkley never won an NBA championship.

But that wasn’t the first time Barkley got personal with Durant. Back when Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State.

On ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” following Durant’s signing with Golden State, Barkley said that KD was “gonna gravy train on a terrific Warriors team” and that he was “disappointed from a competitive standpoint.”

And yes, Barkley did the same thing (without the same success) when he chased a ring with the Rockets in 1996. Houston lost in the Conference Finals that season.

He even took a shot at Durant during last year’s free agency when the 10-time All-Star surprised most people by signing in Brooklyn. On a conference call with reporters to promote a golf tournament, Barkley suggested that New York would break him because of his “thin skin.” Thomas transcribed that back-and-forth as well.

“Well, I’d say, ‘Kevin, you’re one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen. You also got some of the thinnest skin I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you’re made for New York City,’” Barkley said. “I think that would be the toughest aspect. If he’s arguing with these teenagers online, he’s not going to be able to deal with that New York media… I don’t think he has the mental makeup to play in New York. That’s just my personal opinion.”

Now, let’s move on to what Barkley said about Irving on his short-lived media boycott for which Irving and the Nets were each fined $25,000, again per Basketball News’ Thomas. Speaking on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show” Barkley railed against Irving.

“And when he talks I’m like ‘what the hell is he trying… what is he saying and what is he trying to say?’ He starts talking about what an artist is. He’s a basketball player. That’s what he is. Listen, we’re not… we’re not frontline responders. We’re not teachers. Yo man, you dribble a basketball, stop acting like you’re the smartest person in the world,” Barkley told the ESPN show.

“Now can you talk about social issues and things like that? Of course. But some of this other stuff I’m like ‘yo man, you do realize you’re just a basketball player, right?’ And it seems like he’s like ‘no I want you guys to realize I’m the smartest guy in the room.’ Well first of all, you’re not. You only went to college for six months. A lot of guys are smarter than you are. Just answer stupid basketball questions. And if you want to say something about social justice, say it and mean it, because it’s important and significant. But all that other stuff? Like, yo man, shut the hell up and talk basketball.”

All well and good. A lot of people criticized Irving, but Barkley’s commentary came three days after Irving gave a 17-minute press conference via Zoom with 25 reporters. So, bottom line, don’t expect Barkley on either Nets players’ Christmas card list.