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Volume 25 No. 212
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Durant Leading Crop Of Athletes Bypassing Traditional Media Outlets

Durant recently debuted "The Boardroom" on ESPN+, where athletes discuss the business of sports
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Warriors F Kevin Durant is adamant that "he, not the media, will deliver the message" of where he will play next season after he hits free agency, the latest example of athletes attempting to "curate their own messages through digital production houses while circumventing traditional journalism outlets," according to Logan Murdock of NBC SPORTS BAY AREA. Durant recently rolled out "The Boardroom" series, which debuted on ESPN+ in February, and gives athletes the "opportunity to interview each other about the business of sports." That came after LeBron James in '15 founded Uninterrupted, which is "designed to give athletes a direct-to-fan platform." Stephen Curry last year "signed a deal with Sony to form Unanimous Media," and next month is set to release a Facebook Watch series titled “Stephen vs. The Game.” Curry's partnership with The Players Tribune has also "produced a platform" for him to "promote equality for women and veterans." Durant believes "athlete-focused companies started more as a reaction to the media landscape than as a means to partner." Warriors F Draymond Green, who has partnered with James' Uninterrupted, said, "For years, your story has been told by everybody else and it’s not always in your words. I think it’s important that whatever that message is, you want it to be told. It’s your message at the end of the day." Durant believes that the "athlete-driven media revolution has ruffled feathers." He said, "A lot of media companies are sad about that. Which is causing a strain between the players and the media because obviously they all want to keep their jobs. They all want to tell their stories, but the players are telling it better" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 4/22).

HARD TO PLEASE? ESPN’s Jalen Rose said, "Players still control the narrative and they ultimately decide where they’re going to end up. They get a chance to announce it how they choose." ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said "every player is going to control the message" and Durant was "playing games with the media." Greenberg: "It is what it is. Control your message, that’s fine, but you can't shut everyone else out.” ESPN's Mike Greenberg added, “He doesn't like it when people take shots at him and all of this is still residue from all of the criticism that he received, not for the way he announced that he was going to Golden State, but for the fact that he went to Golden State” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 4/23). NBCSports.com's Kurt Helin tweeted, "Durant says he wants message to be his, not media's. Of course, it’s not that simple. What drives interest in his free agency is fan interest, not simply media obsession. Our playoff game stories draw far less traffic than FA or Laker coach stuff" (TWITTER.com, 4/22).