The NBA’s Kevin Durant recently made headlines for forgiving a fan who called him an expletive prior to last week’s game between his Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks’ fan was Luke Brawner. He got the Phoenix all-star’s attention as he jogged out onto the court for pregame warm-ups. Taken aback, Durant turned on his heels and engaged the fan. Security quickly got involved and appeared ready to eject Brawner – but didn’t after Durant discouraged them from doing so.

“I know you don’t mean that,” he said. “I’m not going to get you kicked out because you paid your money for these tickets, you had a couple of drinks, and I understand how people get, but [there are] better ways to try to get my attention and talk to me …”

In a bizarre radio interview following the altercation, Brawner, who hosts a sports podcast, told reporters the derogatory comment was a name his friend’s brother used to describe Durant. He then proceeded to say he was attending with his friend to honor the man, who had passed away a few years ago.

Looking back on the incident, Durant was gracious.

“It wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s like, they don’t look at us as humans sometimes. So when you get a chance to let a person know how you feel real quick, then they’ll backtrack. See, we’re animals, we’re circus acts, we’re entertainers to them instead of real people. I know the people want to pet the animals in the zoo, get close to the animals in the zoo, but once they get close, they realize you’re real human beings, too. So you should treat us like that. I could’ve had them kicked out. Nah, don’t put that on me.”

Kevin Durant’s measured and forgiving response is receiving wide acclimation – but few sites and reporters are explaining what’s behind his magnanimity.

The 35-year-old is a Christian, and his faith is reflected in his behavior. At the same time, Durant (like all of us) is a work in progress. He’s been known to struggle with bad language himself. He was once fined $15,000 for using profanity in an interview, and another $25,000 – for cursing at a fan. Perhaps he’s intimately aware of the need for grace.

“The Bible both pumps me up and balances me to play my best, but it also tells me more about the Lord and how I can live for Him and what all He has done for me,” he has said. “I’m not perfect by any means. I have a long way to go to become close to the Lord, but hopefully I can continue to stay on that path. I just want to grow spiritually with the Lord and get to know Him as well as I can. I’m keeping strong at it, just trying to make my walk of faith a little better. That’s making me a better person, opening my eyes to things, and I’m maturing.”

He continued:

“I believe God’s love for me, the sacrificial death of Jesus for my sins, and His grace, not my good works, are what saves me. That humbles me and makes me worship Him. I also believe Heaven is reserved for me and that the best is yet to come. I’ve also added a simple tattoo above that same wrist that says, live for eternity. God’s says that’s where we’re all headed. And I want to start living with that eternal perspective on everything I do now.”

Our faith manifests in many ways – especially under pressure. It’s unclear where the fans in the middle of this drama are regarding their faith, but Kevin Durant’s response to their rudeness and crassness serves as a strong witness to Christ’s love and grace – and a gift that has the potential to change their behavior for good.


Image from Getty.