Fans Decide: Kevin Durant's Legacy
Kevin Durant made a bad decision on many fronts; let's review why.
Our following article was inspired by this contrarian take on Kevin Durant's decision in the Summer of 2016 to join the GS Warriors, and we enjoyed writing the counter-argument from a FAN's perspective. The link to the well-written article by a Twitter-follow named Andres Alvarez is below, but you don't have to read his article to understand our take on the same matter.
"Kevin Durant's Legacy and an NBA History Lesson" by Andres Alvarez
Good thoughtful writing inspires us, but that doesn't mean we have to agree with the writing, and in this case we don't agree even a little bit about Kevin Durant's decision to leave OKC being a good one. It stunk, and those who just "felt" it stunk, were right. Here's why...
Maybe we FANS should all consider owners & money when judging athlete's actions?
It's just... well.. WE DON'T.
We don't evaluate everything an athlete does based on money bc 99.9% of us fans play games for free-- for fun and sometimes even for a smidgeon of glory. In this case, we stress "Glory" bc Glory is real and even if you don't give it much thought, Glory has parameters. Fans fall in love with effort and overcoming ob-stackles. Just watch these fellers learn about fate and glory...
Kevin Durant did'n pay no attention to how Glory works when he forsook his fans; he probably paid too much attention to his Nike rep, his agent, and the little red devil on his left shoulder named "The Hamptons Five." (No good can come from decisions made in the Hamptons, can it?) Back to us fans tho, it's all about us, not KD.
We HUMANS live by codes like honor and allegiance and respect. If you get too academic and rely too much on stats and dollar signs, you can evaluate Durant's decision like he was a corporate entity. This is what Alvarez did in this article, and he did it very well-- all logical like Spok and Supertramp.
Music to read by:
But Kevin Durant is a HUMAN playing a GAME in front of other admiring HUMANS; he's not playing for box score statisticians who barely watch the game to check to see if rookies are making the proper percentage (in Rozier's case ANY) of his 3 point shots in tight fast-played playoff games like game 7 of the Boston vs Cavs series. Guys with KD's talents are lucky enough in the Summer of 2016 (but not Summer of 1965 when Ol' Saint Bill asked for $100,001 salary) to get paid like the king of a small medieval country. $8 million here, $20 million there? To FANS these discrepancies in pay are poppycock footnotes in sports history, see here:
When you can make a few hundreds of millions over a career or during a SINGLE contract without even factoring in the BIGGER payoffs which involve advertising sales, we human fans tend to favor judging people by good old fashioned VALUES. What Durant pulled when he ditched a great competitive team and a city full of adoring fans to defect to the VICTOR of his last playoff series, to create a team who only God himself (the God of Injuries that is) could defeat, it took all of 3 seconds for FANS to smell a rat. Durant warn't happy with fans reactions, but our hero can't be entirely blamed for missing the point-- he's still a young man after all. Have compassion, but allow yourself to be critical.
Remember lessons from childhood
Step back, let your inner-child emerge: What Kevin Durant decided wouldn't fly in the schoolyard and it doesn't fly in real life. When you were playing stickball in the schoolyard between lunch and Phonics class, what if the 3 best players in your grade decided to team-up and play all comers? We know the result, and do you know why? Because we've all lived it. All-Star games emerge from human curiosity: to just SEE what a lot of greatness stuffed into a tiny space would look like. Kids try to pull this stunt all the time, and it lasts typically LESS THAN ONE RECESS. You might not even remember when some kids (or you, if you had the most talent in grade school) pulled this sh!t on you, and the reason you forgot is bc at some point in the game it was SO lopsided and obviously unfair to even the most casual observer (but especially Sweet Sally your 3rd grade sweetheart), it never got tried again. How old was KD when he made this classic decision? Old enough to get lambasted for it, that's a Fan's answer to that question. KD the adult and his money-hungry business associates decided that in the near-term championships rule and people will forget HOW it all happened. Or maybe the business associates didn't even think THAT far, they just saw the potential for a sell-able story in the near future: "KD has more rings than LeBron, he's better, nanny nanny poo poo now PAY US NIKE!"
But seriously, if you remember a childhood story of yours where the most talented kids teamed-up in the schoolyard for a single game and beat-up on the scrubs, tell it in the comments below-- true sportsfans love those stories.
Sports is a business just like Hollywood, but the IDEA is to forget that and enjoy
Not to be too critical of a Spok-like basketball analyst who's given us the gift of making a nearly perfect logical BUSINESS argument supporting KD's awful decision, but it's ONLY stat-cyborgs who evaluate everything by numbers who're impressed with these types of decisions. Owners? Sure, we admit they're greedy most of the time (but not ALL of the time, otherwise Cuban wouldn't keep letting Dirk start and probably would've hired Hinkie to be GM over his friend who got him a ring once), but not even 1% of fans watch sports bc of owners. Owners are such an after-thought, it's actually a little shocking when one hoists a trophy over his head in the post-Finals celebrations. "Oh yeah, that guy". We often wonder why the guy with SWEAT on his brow isn't dominating the trophy, or at least given it FIRST. Win it all? Watch your OWNER take first dibs. Unreal. But let's get deeper on what an awful decision KD made over the LONGER term, but first a reminder to read your (Bible) parables!
Religion is a thing. It's roots are found in humanity
There is a parable called the "Parable of the Minas" or some Christians call it "The Parable of the Talents" bc they like to relate it to using one's god-given talents instead of wasting them. (in fact, "talents" are a measurement of gold or money) The parable is in the book of Luke, and we'll let you Google it if you really wanna read the story, it's deep. In the parable we are force-fed a lesson by J.F.C., a very IRONIC
and timely lesson in these recent 1% times, that "the rich get richer". JC means this in a GOOD way (hence the irony). In the parable, the "servant" who gains the most trust from his rich employer ends up being given the most shekels to invest, bc he's earned the trust as being a good supportive person who when the master is away is governing the master's estate as if it were his own. By contrast, those under the master's rule who are critical of the master publicly, are lined up and killed (probably in the public square-- "public" being applicable to OUR fan-based basketball perspective here). Those OTHER characters in the parable who carry out the master's will but not in accordance with the master's wishes have their assets taken away and given to the guy who best used his talents for good; at least, good in the way the master defines it (and JC is always talking about God being your master, so he's assuming the benign all-loving God etc... etc...). Where did Kevin Durant's decision get him, in comparison to the parable's character comps? He's not going to get taken out and shot with bow and arrow by the King, he's not THAT bad, let's be reasonable. He's a hard working basketball player who really is using his talents to the best of his ability. But the "master" also judges your character and the choices you make. The master doesn't just judge how much money you made for him, he judges HOW you went about it. It is here, where KD falls into the trap of servant #3 who buries his talent so that the master would have no loss, minimizing risk, and not actively stretching his talent to the limit to see if he can overcome and make outsized gains. Fans respect the JOURNEY as much or equal to the result of the journey. A favorable result without the Odysseus ob-stackles defining his glorious journey, isn't very exciting. KD's win last year was boring; GSW were a stacked team. FANS DECIDE YOUR FATE / LEGACY, not your ring-count or bank-account.
"Even if..." ...you are a devout numbers guy...
...it's important to remember honor and a GOOD reputation result in WAY more in DOLLARS over the life of a star player and his heirs. This is due to his/her advertising sale-ability and the fact that a star's legacy will allow more money to be made the rest of this life than when he was paid by an NBA team or two.
Michael Jordan NEVER worked for the Chicago Bulls and LeBron NEVER worked for a team owner, they've worked for Nike (Harden Adidas, Curry Under Armour) realistically, if you add up all the numbers over a lifetime of a superior dominant athlete. Even the PLAYERS know this (now). Lonzo Ball is just a rookie, and he and his clever saavy Dad have their own sneaker line-- so player's understand who their boss is from the getgo. Add up all the money MJ made in his life, and it's not even close- comparing his Bulls salaries to Nike. (and JUST Nike, not counting speaking engagements to old Wall Streeters or other such incomes which go to "Servant #1" who carries out God's Will in God's holy glory-filled image). We don't honestly remember if Derek Jeter left some money on the table to let his Yankees be better (but know Iggy done this for GSW; Iggy even let a coach play him off the bench and STILL rose up to earn the Finals MVP in 2015), but staying in one city and building nearly-spotless reputation on top of a foundation of spotless reputation, allowed Jeter to be set up for life-- that is-- if he really wanted to convert his glorious fame into dollar signs (does he? We think Jetes could probably do more advertising, but that's debate we don't care to discourse). The point is, Jeter IS servant #1 in the parable of the talents; he's gonna have stuff heaped upon him even when he doesn't ask. Opportunity will chase Jeter into the grave, but not KD. Not now anyway (see our optimism at conclusion below) KD gonna have some stink on him, unless he comes clean, admits his mistake, and makes better career decisions in the future. (See LeBron's return to Cleveland and how it affected his rep--> altho that's a nuanced topic for another article).
What SHOULD be written about KD's NBA-fateful decision to make GSW a nearly invincible team?
A FAR more interesting article by a basketball insider-writer (not us, we have zero connections, we get by on ability to think good only ), would've be a deep dive on Durant's conversations with his Nike rep (typically a friend in addition to a business associate for most players-- like a player's agent) when making the decision of OKC or GSW. We'd like to be a fly on the wall, and then be a little white angel that says to Durant's RIGHT holy shoulder "don't do it Kevin, it looks good on paper buy you'll destroy your rep with fans of ALL cities and that will cost you BIGTIME from age 39 to age 89 when the majority of your earning will be done as an ambassador of basketball.
Saddam Hussein and his agent ran the numbers too, and Kuwait looked like pure profit to him. He said to himself "just take it over, that tiny little nieghbor, you got the muscle, and doggonit people like me". How's that working out for him? You know, destroying your reputation for a near-term gain and glory? (Hint: He Dead)
Conclusion & Epilogue: A Hero's Journey has not ended (yet)
There's upside KD!!
KD's journey is not over, he could turn a bad mistake into an asset. We turn your attention to the story of Saul who becomes Paul in the Bible (yep, we loves us some bible!). Paul is the greatest guy in the Bible who's initials aren't J.C. Know why? Because that cat started off life with a rep which couldn't be worse, and he turned it around 180. Going from pure evil to pure sainthood is the greatest of all contrasts and make's for the greatest "Hero's Journey". But Kevin Saul Durant needs to correct his mistake somehow, and we advise NOT listening to the agents and Nike reps who got him into this mess he's calling multiple-ring success. Want a better reaction from fans in the all-judgements-are-final Twitterverse, KD? Start acting like the hero in the schoolyard, pick some fair teams, and then rise above all your competitors or die trying along with Tony Gwynn and the sub-33 Phil Mickelson. Heck you can even cheat a little bit like MJ did when he stealth-improved by signing a DEFENSIVE stalwart like Rodman. Now THAT is genius folks, no fans (at least not the loud ones) give a rat's CRAP about defense or the greatest rebounder to ever play the game. Anything Rodman got was delivered right to Michael Jordan's lap. All Rodman got for all his hard championship-loving work was Ambassadorship of North Korea, but that's a topic for a future article titled "Nice Guys Finish Last". In the court of fan judgements, there's fine lines for what you can inflate and what you can semi-inflate, Tom Brady, and how you play the game will add or subtract fans. But rigging the game for zero downside, that's just a bully in a schoolyard abusing your fanship, in our not so humble opinion. Always remember, Captain Kirk is HUMAN, he doesn't have green blood, Jim.
Postscript reading material:
Parable of the Minas = https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19%3A11-27&version=NIV
Hero's Journey = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero%27s_journey