To a certain degree, Golden State’s vagueness about Durant’s status heightened the drama.

In an interview with Good Morning America after Durant’s injury, his mom Wanda teared up while discussing online critics who questioned her son’s character and integrity. “[Over] the last few years, there has been a lot of question about who he is as a person—his heart for people, his love for his teammates, his love for the game,” she said. “It was really painstaking, but because my son is an adult and the NBA is his employer, I chose not to respond.”

Of course, nobody can pin Kevin Durant’s decision to play (and the team’s approval) on an article or a chorus of basketball provocateurs, but Durant has been bothered by online opprobrium before. For example, in 2017, one year after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, he defended his decision on social media, and got caught using anonymous accounts on Twitter to do so.

Durant cares deeply about his reputation, and there’s no doubt he’ll be lauded for his game 5 heroics. (His 11 points were critical in Golden State’s one-point victory.) But his sacrifice shows the ugliness of hyper-masculinity and social media. Both create expectations that can imperil a person’s wellbeing.

Durant’s approach to modern stardom, however, contrasts sharply with that of Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s star, who doesn’t use social media at all. When Leonard’s unusual laugh went viral last year, he was entirely unperturbed. “Let everybody have fun with it. It doesn’t bother me at all,” he told ESPN. “That’s who I am.” At Toronto’s championship rally on Monday, Leonard even poked fun at his own laugh, showing that he’s able to shrug off scrutiny.

Durant’s concern and Leonard’s detachment both border on the extreme, but they show how much the digital world does—and doesn’t—matter. Haters gonna hate, but remember, you don’t have to listen.

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