Kevin Durant went from being called "Mr. Unreliable" to "Old Reliable" after scoring 36 points to secure his team a Game 7 in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs.
After Durant, the 25-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder forward, missed a key free throw in an overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies during Game 5 Tuesday, he became the topic of criticism. The Oklahoman newspaper was one of the biggest critics who became an ESPN topic after calling Durant "Mr. Unreliable" in a headline after the Thunder's big loss.
"Durant went to the foul line three times – and made just one of two on all three trips, including a miss after Crawford's interruption, when the Thunder trailed 100-99 with 27.5 seconds left in overtime, a score that held up at the end. For six years, Durant has shot foul shots on a string," the newspaper's harsh critique of Durant read. "Mister Automatic. Now he's unreliable."
Since making national headlines for the review of Durant's game, the publication has issued a public apology. Durant insisted that he couldn't care less about the scathing review of his game.
"As player, as a competitor, it's going to be good and bad days," Durant told reporters, according to ESPN. "People are going to build you up and break you down."
The criticism did not seem to affect Durant's game negatively, and the star forward, who is in the running for MVP, scored 36 points and 10 boards in the 104-84 win against the Grizzlies. The win means the Thunder will have one more chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs if they can edge out their opponents in the series that is currently tied.
Durant said he was motivated by the fact that the game was a must-win for his team, who is not ready to end their season.
"We needed to win this game," Durant said. "That's more motivation than anything, so our team responded. We've got to do an even better job in Game 7."
Hours after his reliability was questioned by his hometown newspaper, Durant's game on Friday has earned him a new label from NBA.com-- "Mr. Reliable."
The Thunder and Grizzlies each hope to close out the series on Saturday.