After another Twitter spat, the Warriors' Kevin Durant defends his odd social media behavior

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LAS VEGAS -- Kevin Durant did little on Thursday to diminish his reputation for being a high-antennaed worrywart on social media.

But, in defending himself, Durant tried to broaden the conversation and attempted to twist outsiders' perspectives on why he does what he does, and says what he says on social media.

"I know when I say something, you're stepping into my space or circle," Durant said. "You don't have to do that. Am I right?"

In saying this, a soon-to-be-30-year-old told no lies but also completely ignored the very essence of Twitter. The minute Durant was effectively busted last year for having phony Twitter accounts stan for his honor, he lost all ability to control how he was viewed on social media.

Durant got a lot off his chest as he spoke with reporters for approximately 30 minutes after a vigorous workout at USA Basketball minicamp. Naturally, the subject of his brief Twitter tête-à-tête with Portland Trail Blazer guard CJ McCollum from Wednesday came up. The two went back and forth regarding Durant's decisions to join Golden State in 2016; this came up shortly after McCollum had Durant on his podcast.

"What happened yesterday?" Durant coyly said Thursday when asked about his exchange with McCollum. "I say how I feel, but I guess I'm the bad guy."

Since it's the NBA offseason, this kind of social media-driven content is chum in open waters for all NBA fans to follow. Durant is gladly playing along, but not at his own expense. Things got going when he had a back-and-forth interaction with a member of the media inside UNLV's practice facility, where Team USA was holding its minicamp.

"This is not East Coast-West Coast beef," Durant said. "CJ and I will go have some wine with him in New York when he gets back from China -- and take a picture if y'all really don't believe me."

Durant's interactions with the media felt like a pseudo-therapy session (for him) as much as they did a campaign for his own justified reasons for clapping back at McCollum. The two-time NBA Finals MVP politely questioned why reporters, and others, viewed him as someone sore to criticism and too quick to respond to it on social media.

"Really, how's your word more valuable than mine? I respect everybody for what they do, but, like, get out the way. I did the work." Kevin Durant

"Maybe he was upset about something I did?" Durant said of McCollum. "Really, how's your word more valuable than mine? I respect everybody for what they do, but, like, get out the way. I did the work."

He made it clear that he and McCollum have no rift, and that it was a casual disagreement -- albeit one that played out on social media -- giving a feeding frenzy to those who love or hate Durant's Twitter tactics.

"I ain't want no smoke with nobody," Durant said. "No problems with nobody. Me and CJ (are) tight. We talk on the phone all the time about little s--- like that. So it was a friendly jab. But I think everybody ran with it, and obviously I can't get into s--- like that with other players because, like, hey, you just don't like me at this point. And I love it because it ain't going to stop. It's just going to fuel me to be better and better. So, I know you think I'm sensitive, but I'm just somebody actually tired of holding s--- in."

Durant's long been one of the most famous athletes on the planet, yet he continues to occasionally open himself up in ways that most global celebrities don't. This brings on precious meme opportunities for the cynical, but also tends to exacerbate his issues and image off the court.

It might be that there's no one with a wider perceived gap of talent on the floor and insecurity off of it. Ultimately, this might make Durant all the more compelling. It is fascinating all the while.

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Kevin Durant was ready for reporters Thursday after Team USA's practice. CBS Sports / Matt Norlander

He can argue all day long that what he's doing off the court is misunderstood and that criticism of him is misguided. But he's too smart for that. He knows exactly what he's doing. I'd love to hear more about what makes him the way he is on Twitter, what compels him to burrow in his mentions and shield up the way he does.

I asked him, but Durant refused to dive into it.

"That's a little too deep of a question to ask," he responded.

Does he care about outsiders' opinions? He might answer "no," but given how much he went into the topic on Thursday, you could easily argue he does care. And given how Durant was all too willing to get into it on Twitter with McCollum (as opposed to texting or calling him), indicates he's seeking something from a public standpoint anyway.

And yet: "So when I say something, I'm just going about my way," Durant said. "But when I speak there's a bunch of people who just jumping in the conversation -- and nobody was talking to you. And you get used with what I said, but I'm the guy that's sensitive? It's just real backward to me. I just don't get it, and I know people will call me sensitive for even talking about it, but hey, that's just who I am. I'm sorry. Well, I'm not sorry. But if you feel a way about it, then, I mean, I don't understand why. Because it's like you're wasting your time and energy by even focusing on me. All you really gotta do is watch me hoop, right?"

If that's all there was to Durant, the best combination of height and offensive scoring power in NBA history, it would be fine. But thankfully, it's not.

Fortunately with Durant, there is so much more he'll always need to prove to us. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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