Gather round for we are here to share in a tale as old as time: things being misunderstood online. Fold into that a colloquial gap, some pent up confusion, the yearning human desire to be known, and we have ourselves a real saga of surprise and delight starring Stan Van Gundy and Kevin Durant.
So yesterday, a little after 5pm ET, former coach and noted ankle breaker, Stan Van Gundy took to Twitter to get something off his chest.
90’s NBA teams had just a trainer and a strength coach, they practiced more often and harder and played more back to backs. Teams now have huge medical & “performance” staffs and value rest over practice. Yet injuries and games missed are way up. Something’s not working!Advertisement
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) January 17, 2023
Now, Van Gundy is no stranger to the platform and its character and nuance limitations. Despite only having joined Twitter in July of 2020, Van Gundy has taken to the platform like a furious fish to water. He went on record with this very website at that time to talk about what it was that initially pushed him to sign up (his wife, and a desire to get more involved in Florida’s grassroots politics) and has been tweeting frequently and with great intention about politics, the climate, disdain for Fox News, occasional insight on watercraft, and of course, basketball, ever since. Basically, this is not the man’s first tweet rodeo, and it’s an important distinction to make for what happened next.
If you’d like to think of Van Gundy as Twitter’s own gruff yet caring crossing guard (as I often do), then Kevin Durant is the platform’s brooding prince. Durant has (and will again) find the most remote, obscure, far-flung references to him, with or without direct tags of his account, and gleefully reply. It’s an incredible skill to watch for the multi-fold joy of where he’ll pop up, what he’ll say, and picturing him, like the rest of us, with nothing better to do than getting a tweet off. He’s on Twitter like that scene in Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey figures out the universe’s extra dimension is love and uses it to somehow show up in a bookcase in the past, except Durant’s extra dimension is gleeful pettiness and he’s popping up in @KDplusbongrips4evr221 replies to call him soft.
Given all this, the two getting into an exchange on Twitter feels as natural as the tides.
What it was Van Gundy wanted to get off his chest is something that’s come up often in the last few years in terms of how the NBA is changing. What seemed to start down the road of another “In my day” opinion comparing this era of basketball to the past, goes on to lay out some fair points. Teams do have entire staffs dedicated to recovery and treatment that they did not employ in the past, but the injuries aren’t tapering off — if anything, it feels like things are getting worse. It was a compelling enough line of exploration that Durant (maybe people over 50 don’t frequent into his algorithm as often?) chimed in to concur:
Van Gundy, perhaps out for a leisurely boat ride, didn’t reply until a few hours later, but when he did it was to further clarify his original point:
No. I’m not criticizing players. I’m saying that we are getting something wrong in how we prepare and train players. We can’t do anything about injuries like yours, he fell on your leg. But all of these groin, hamstring injuries etc. shouldn’t be happening as much as they are.
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) January 18, 2023
Here is where the communicative waters were muddied. Van Gundy clearly took Durant’s use of the word ‘spitting’ to signify disrespect, e.g. if you literally spit on a person, or a person’s opinion. Maybe the ellipses had something to do with it too, because that’s something that has never in its punctuative history brought clarity to any situation. Anyway, Van Gundy began to clarify. This was about the health of players (we knew), and not to criticize them or place any blame of the situation at their feet (we knew). He even went so far as to contextualize the injuries he meant, not like Durant’s, because it’s true Jimmy Butler did just fall on his leg, but groin, hamstring, etc. A who’s-who of the big ones in the game Operation.
Durant’s reply came two minutes later:
How do you like to picture him typing this one? With a shake of his head and a smile on his face, or with a bit of exasperation? I like the former, but it takes all kinds.
A very kind Twitter user jumped in moments later to lend further clarity to a situation that did, still, require some:
Spitting means you’re speaking facts, Stan.
— Felipe (@EastRiverHeron) January 18, 2023Advertisement
And the rest is history (and should probably go on a shirt):
Other than this being a great example of the ways Twitter can divide, but ultimately unite us, building bridges we didn’t realize were necessary, I think it’s urgently necessary for someone to give Van Gundy a column called ‘Stan Spits’, or better yet a podcast of the same name where every episode Van Gundy gets into it briefly about what’s really grinding his gears and calls up guests like Durant to help him work it out. The intro music can be the very appropriate track ‘Holdin’ It Down’ by Big L, ft. Stan Spit.
And for the sake of squeezing all the the life out of this gorgeous sequence of tweets, I’ve compiled a helpful list to further illustrate where one word got itself into such a conundrum.
Things we would love to see Stan Van Gundy spit on (respectfully):
- Fashion trends for 2023
- The current state of league parity
- The best kind of sandwich
- The current goings on in the world of motorized recreational watercraft
- A cold one (beer)
- A cold one (a take he didn’t agree with, but wants to get to the heart of)
- That Pistons photoshoot
- Book recommendations
- His favorite song on The Big Chill soundtrack
Things we would love to see Stan Van Gundy spit on (disrespectfully):
- Fashion trends for 2023 (Cargo pants? Really?)
- Late stage capitalism
- Mismanagement of our natural waterways
- Ticketmaster and the secondary ticket market
Things we have no idea which side Stan Van Gundy’s spit would land on but are deeply curious about:
- The popularization of QR codes as menus at restaurants