Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On Kevin Durant: Why The Fuss?

I don't get the negative reaction that has greeted the news about Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors.  He has been savagely attacked on social meeting, and noted ESPN Gasbag and Bloviator Stephen A. Smith has called him a "coward" (huh?) for doing so.

(Before going any further, I need to note that taking Stephen A. Smith seriously about just about anything is probably not a good idea.)

Anyway, here's what I know - and I admit that I am not an expert on the subject - about Kevin Durant:

  • He is a great basketball player who has served the Oklahoma City franchise with honor and distinction for nine seasons (one of which was when the team was located in Seattle).
  • To my knowledge, he has always been a good teammate and a good citizen and has never been a problem child or prima donna, and he has never made an issue about being in Oklahoma City.
  • He allowed his contract to expire, and became a free agent.  This is a right that he has earned under the collective bargaining agreement that governs his employment as an NBA player.
  • He carefully considered his options and signed with the Warriors, where he felt he had the best chance to play on a championship team. He went through this process quickly and relatively quietly.  No hoopla, no media circus - at least not one orchestrated by him or his representatives.
  • And, yes, he signed with a team that would pay him a lot of money.  So what?  Another name for that, I believe, is "free enterprise".
Once this news broke, the attacks started and they have been relentless, and I don't get it.  

Why is it wrong for him to have signed with the Warriors, a team that won 73 games last year and went to Game Seven in the NBA Finals?  

Why is it wrong for him to have signed with a "good" team, one that will contend for the championship next season?

Would it have been better if he had signed with, say, the Bucks or the 76'ers?  Would that have been okay in the eyes of his critics?

Why is it wrong for him to have signed for the team that paid him the most money (and I say that not knowing of other teams may have offered more than the Warriors)?  

What does his Thunder team losing to the Warriors in the past season's playoffs have anything to do with this? 

I do get it that fans of the OKC Thunder are upset.  They carry the emotional investment of devoted sports fans and feel dissed by the guy they have cheered for and supported these past nine years.  However, national media commentators, and even anonymous social media critics should look at the big picture.

Way back in 1978, I left a pretty nice job with Metropolitan Life in Cleveland, Ohio and took a job with Equitable Life.  Why did I do that?  Well, Equitable gave me chance move back to a city that I preferred, Pittsburgh, and they offered me more money.  So, I jumped at the offer.  Granted, the money was a while lot different than NBA superstar money, but the principle is the same.   I am also betting that many of you reading this can tell a similar story.  In fact, good old Stephen A. Smith himself left a job as columnist for the Philadelphia Enquirer and took a job with ESPN that pays him a reported $3 million a year.  No one called him a coward for doing that, but today we can call him a hypocrite.

As I said, I just don't get it.

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