Hawks’ Trae Young points to Suns’ Kevin Durant as example

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

For Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, haters come with the territory.

“I look at those like boos, and ‘F you’ chants – stuff like overrated – like, you ain’t saying I’m overrated unless I’m actually doing something on the court,” he said on “Gil’s Arena” with Gilbert Arenas on August 5. “So I just use that as like a sign of respect for sure.”

Young’s exploits on the court have led to plenty such chants as he’s showcased his talents at the most storied venues in the postseason most notably his bow at center court of Madison Square Garden in the first round of the playoffs in 2021, the year the Hawks made their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Knicks fans still break out in “f*** Trae Young” chants from time to time, and that happened two years ago.

Young takes it all in stride.

He relayed the story of being in the arena for Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City after he left in free agency for the Golden State Warriors in 2016. Fans wore clothing and held up signs that read “cupcake” and peppered Durant with jeers every time he touched the ball.

“I know a lot of Oklahoma fans may be mad I say this – but I looked up to KD a lot,” he told Arenas and co-host Josiah Johnson. “So seeing him go through all the stuff he went through when he left and coming back – I was at that game when everybody in the arena wearing cupcakes and everything like I haven’t seen.”

Young said on “The Draymond Green Show” that he does want to always play the role of the villain.

But he also knows that he’s not unique in having to deal with it.

“I feel like when you do that, people obviously care about what you’re doing like and you’re just hooping,” he said. “So I mean, as a hooper in that situation, you can’t do nothing but just keep doing what you’re doing because you know it’s going to come with it.”

The offseason has not brought much rest for Young.

He got married, announced that he is having another child, saw his AAU team win a championship, and dropped his third signature shoe.

But his focus remains on the court. So much so that the rollout campaign for the Trae Young 3s has a heavy focus on leaving a legacy. Not just on the court, mind you, though that certainly factors heavily into the equation.

Trae Young knows Hawks winning will bring respect

“It’s a narrative thing,” he said. “I’m not always out there just saying whatever and just trying to be out there in the front page. If I was, maybe people would respect my game a little bit more and things like that. But I’m just going to continue to do it how I do it, and it’s going to be respected once I win a championship. And I know that s*** is what it is. But that’s just how I feel about it.”

Again, Young has spoken before about wanting to accomplish more than he already has in his five-year career.

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And, when Arenas suggested that he would have to leave the Hawks to win a championship because ownership wouldn’t be willing to spend as necessary, Young was ready with some history in rebuttal.

“It’s okay,” he said. “They didn’t think we were gonna make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.”

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The Hawks have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons and, with Young in town, there is no reason to believe they are heading in any direction but up.