Sunday, February 5 2023

Kevin Durant stays. Baker Mayfield starts. 

What do Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant and Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield have in common? Since news broke that Durant and the Nets will not part ways, and Baker will be the Week 1 starter for the Panthers over Sam Darnold, Skip Bayless drew a major comparison between the two polarizing athletes.

On this week’s episode of “The Skip Bayless Show,” Bayless asserted that Durant and Mayfield have one big commonality: They both just got all-time humbled by their respective leagues.

“As much as I love me some KD and Baker as players, I find both of them hard to like off the court and off the field. KD is the thinnest-skinned superstar I’ve ever closely observed. Baker became insufferably full of himself before he’d really proven anything.”

The Nets’ two-month impasse with Durant ended this week with the superstar folding his hand and withdrawing his trade request, a move that Bayless thinks made Durant look like less of a superstar than he really is. 

“Nets owner Joe Tsai made Kevin Durant look foolish,” Bayless said. “He just stood up to 7-foot-tall Kevin Durant and told him, ‘No, sorry, you’re not going to ultimatum your way out of Brooklyn. I’m going to hold your feet to this fire. I’m not going to fire Sean Marks or Steve Nash. You, Kyrie [Irving] and Ben Simmons are going to win a championship for the Brooklyn Nets.'”

Similarly, Bayless said that Mayfield got his comeuppance by way of Deshaun Watson hitting the open market.

“Reportedly, the Browns wanted an ‘adult’ at quarterback,” Bayless said. “They didn’t think Baker Mayfield qualified, so they plunged on Deshaun and Baker’s pride took a plunge into the depths of humility.”

Yet this newfound humility shared between the two athletes is the exact reason Durant and Mayfield are both primed to have their career-best seasons, Bayless asserted.  

After Durant failed to lead the Nets to a single playoff win this past postseason — shooting just 39.4% from the floor in a first-round series sweep by the Celtics — doubt swirled about his ability to carry a team in his post-Golden State era. But Bayless believes the Nets’ refusal to concede to Durant will set him up for a major comeback this season.

“Kevin Durant is becoming an adult,” he said. “He was subconsciously looking for somebody to stand up to him. Joe Tsai did that. I think Kevin Durant is poised for a monster year. This team should be favored to win it all.”

For Mayfield, after the former No. 1 overall pick ended Cleveland’s 26-year playoff victory drought, he struggled to an 8-9 record last season with 17 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, all while nursing a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder.

Mayfield admitted he felt “disrespected” when his time in Cleveland came to an end after the Browns traded for Watson, and Bayless believes a fresh start in Carolina will put the chip back onto the shoulder of the former Texas Tech walk-on.

“Baker is back to being a hopeless underdog in Carolina,” Bayless said. “I love it. I love this team’s chances. I believe the Carolina Panthers are destined to make the playoffs this year because Baker Mayfield is back to doing what he does best: shocking the world. The Panthers have a humbled adult at quarterback.”

Mayfield’s potential redemption season begins Week 1 in Carolina against his former Browns team, a game he admits has added personal meaning for him. Meanwhile, Durant and the Nets avoiding a breakup means his title chase without Steph Curry & Co. will continue this fall in Brooklyn.


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Source: FOX Sports

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