The N.B.A. fined Kevin Durant, the Nets star, $50,000 for using “offensive and derogatory” language on social media, an apparent reference to screenshots of a private social media conversation between Durant and Michael Rapaport, an actor and podcast host.
On Tuesday, Rapaport posted screenshots of an Instagram conversation with Durant in which Durant used homophobic and misogynistic language to refer to Rapaport, who was critical of an interview Durant did on TNT in December.
The images shared by Rapaport did not appear to show the full exchange of messages between the two, but in one, Durant seemed to threaten Rapaport by naming a time and place for them to meet. Rapaport, who is white and has publicly made racist comments, responded multiple times by telling Durant, who is Black, to, “Go help the kids in BROWNSVILLE, BROOKLYN.” Brownsville is a mostly Black neighborhood where Rapaport has said he has gone to play basketball.
After Rapaport posted the screenshots on Twitter, Durant replied to the post, saying, “Me and mike talk CRAZIER than this on the regular and today he’s pissed….My bad mike, damn!!” Rapaport then replied with misogynistic language. Rapaport’s initial post has been shared more than 15,000 times.
The Nets declined to comment. Durant, 32, apologized on Thursday.
“I’m sorry that people have seen the language I used,” Durant told reporters. “That’s not what I want people to see or hear from me, but hopefully I can move past it and get back out there on the floor.”
Durant is prolific on social media, often using Twitter and Instagram to defend himself from fan criticism, no matter how small or large the fan’s followings. In 2017, it was revealed that Durant had created so-called burner accounts — alternate identities — to defend himself. Last year, he said on a podcast that he still has them.
Rapaport, 51, is best known for roles on television shows such as “Boston Public” and “Prison Break” but has become more known in recent years for his basketball fandom and for his public social media feuds, including with his former employer Barstool.
Durant has not played since Feb. 13 because of a hamstring strain. The Nets have not lost a step without him, having gone 18-3 since then. It is unknown when Durant will play again, but on Thursday he said, “I feel like it’ll be soon that I can be out there with my teammates.”