Skip to main content

Durant Showed Us Who He Was

When people show you who they are, believe them. 

That's what my thought process is reduced to regarding Kevin Durant, his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, and well, everything else that surrounds the latest drama that has taken over the NBA (and in many ways, the sports world). 

Kevin Durant is immensely talented. Superhuman in so many ways. If you see him in person (as I have many times at the Barclays Center as a Brooklyn Net, and once at the Staples Center as a young member of the Oklahoma City Thunder), you're simply in awe of his stature, his ability, and his grace on the court. It's the kind of aura that keeps you believing in the aura of pro sports, and the sheer exclusiveness of these human beings. It's in the same realm as LeBron James and Steph Curry, physical and ability marvels that go just beyond remarkable, existing in a realm of specialness that cannot be described other than comprehension with the eyes. 

Kevin Durant is one of my favorite athletes to watch. He's that rare.

However, I'm also in that group that does indeed hold Durant's move to the Golden State Warriors against his reputation and, well, my own perceived clarity of his legacy (legacy talk is so overdone). Yes, championships are hard, and when you get them, you get them - and Durant was a contributing member of two title wins. You can't take that away from him. However, I'm still of the opinion that all championships are special, but they aren't equal. 

That's where this Nets chapter of Durant's career was so interesting. He got the titles to evade the kind of clowning we see Charles Barkley receive from his colleagues on Inside the NBA on TNT, and among those who dictate championships as not just qualifiers for eternal lore, but a requirement to escape the "waiting room" that Barkley, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, John know the names make their home. 

Brooklyn was supposed to be different. He shunned the Warriors dynasty because of perceived disagreements with the organization. He, like so many else, left my beloved New York Knicks begging at the altar to pick up the sword of forging a new history with the Nets. 

Among that, the Nets organization gave in to the superstar ransom that came with the deal - which also included a packaged deal for Kyrie Irving and a friendly max deal as well for their buddy, Deandre Jordan. Durant was given James Harden later on. The Nets acquiesced to the head coach position and the allowance of Irving's "availability". So much of what the Nets had built prior to Durant's arrival, was removed and replaced for well...Durant and Co. 

After a couple of disappointing seasons and being swept in the first round by the eventual Eastern Conference Champions, Boston Celtics, Durant now fresh off of a contract extension wants out. And he wants to choose where he goes, and he reportedly wants specific members of those teams to remain so thus, he can play with those talents in a new location.  

Sure, signing an extension and then demanding a trade is the highest kind of privilege there is. It's borderline the kind of move that makes you wonder about the "player empowerment" of the NBA (has it gone too far?) and also, the blatant disrespect of the binding contract concept. And quite frankly, it's that kind of move that just makes Durant a bad guy. Who does that?!

Still, for me, the highest level of disappointment is that Durant, who had the opportunity to lead - like, really, lead! - is realizing that the position he put himself in, isn't providing a reduced amount of adversity and resistance to winning. 

In a year where the Golden State Warriors captured a fourth NBA championship sandwiching those Durant helped deliver, all of it furthered the narrative that Durant is now a "plug-in" to their dynasty and just an answer to a trivia question alongside Harrison Barnes and Andrew Wiggins. 

Obviously, it's not true as Durant and the Warriors literally broke the NBA for a few years, but it does become illuminated as "footnote-like" narratives continue to surround him.

I think I wanted to believe in Durant. Despite my Knicks colors (and I do rejoice in watching this all burn), the idea of making the Nets, and his own career, somewhat that of a specialty in one, is the kind of quality I appreciate from athletes. After all, one title in Brooklyn does that for him. Just ONE! And that would mean much more than the two in Golden State (at least for a fan). Or probably any other he could attain by joining teams on his "wish list" such as the Miami Heat or Phoenix Suns (both former #1 seeds in their Conferences this year) going forward. But the window is closing, and Durant knows that too. 

Durant's latest request is the kind of move that does make me reexamine the stature of "championships" for "legacy discussion". There is definitely validation and something to be said for Ewing, Miller, Stockton, etc... who stayed and steady a franchise for decades. Others come to play with them. What is that value in these discussions? 

I've realized that maybe, Durant is not a leader. And in sports (as in life), the most talented individual is expected (or automated) to be that person. We too often associate the alpha player with leadership qualities, or the trigger of self-ownership competitiveness that came with Bird, Magic, and Jordan. Maybe Durant is just a dude who wants to hoop and doesn't care where his championships come from, as long as he gets them.

And you know what? There ain't nothing wrong with that either. 

We - us sports fans - set the barometer for the discussion, we can't be upset when athletes chase that expectation. 

Durant showed us what he was about when he left Oklahoma City for Golden State. He is once again showing us that this summer. 

It's time to believe it. 

Recently Read Posts

A Product of Us: Thoughts on Durant Trade

I said back in July when Kevin Durant rocked the NBA world with his trade request, that he "showed us who he was".  It wasn't a negative comment, but one that encompasses his entire career being a product of our current sport climate - success and focus on legacy. We emphasize the value of a career on rings, and thus, Durant has too. Why wouldn't he?!  Upon waking up and realizing that Durant will don the purple and orange for the Phoenix Suns in what is clearly now a team to watch come the NBA Playoffs, I find myself further pondering if Kevin Durant is the prime result of what we - yes, us! - have done to the modern athlete.  Today, Durant is one of the greatest basketball players I've ever seen. EVER. The dude is rare. He's a seven-foot magician which makes defending him even more difficult based on how damn efficient he is on the basketball court. It's downright poetic and beautiful to watch Durant play. And yes, I'm romanticizing his game. I belie

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 2/19/23

3 Up 1. India's Tap Water Access - This is a rather remarkable story. It's a story that offers humility wrapped in the extraordinary. India's Jal Jeevan Mission provided almost 79 million - 79 MILLION! - households with tap water. Just tap water!  2. Jordan Make-A-Wish Record - MJ is often loved through nostalgia, narrative, and remembrance for being politically neutral - even in giving. MJ these days has made some influential contributions, including this latest $10M donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation.  3. WWE Elimination Chamber - A tremendously entertaining pay-per-view on the road to Wrestlemania. The best storyline in pro wrestling continues to evolve between Sami Zayn and the Bloodline.  3A. City of Montreal - Give it up to the city of Montreal for what made a few nights of pro wrestling an awesome experience. Can we get this city more events?  3 Down 1. Michigan State Shooting - We're broken. Very broken. My thoughts and prayers are with those friends and fam

Impact No Surrender 2023 Review: "Interested in where the Product is Going"

I've fallen behind on my Impact Wrestling viewing, but honestly, that's okay. For viewership and enjoyment, yes. Not so well for posting a review for readership long after it's noteworthy or relevant. But whatevs, that's just where I am in life. Wrestling is much more fun removed from the restraints and influence of the criticism and impact (no pun intended) of the current time. That's just me. You can probably thank social media. Moving on, No Surrender 2023 continues Impact's progress into the new year. The product is still solid and consistent with a nice blend of characters and wrestlers moving in and out of the main event scene, along with a fresh batch of a resurgence of characters and occurrences. Nothing says that more than Rich Swann vs. Josh Alexander.  No Surrender was a solid event, but it does leave me extremely interested in where the product is going, or should I say planning, for 2023. I don't want to say that Alexander's title reign has

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 1/8/22

3 Up 1. New Year - Happy New Year to you all! I've written it in a bunch of emails, mainly to be courteous, but I really do wish you the best for you. I hope 2023 is a great one for all of you DP readers.  2. Buffalo Athletic Trainers - Let's give it up for the Athletic Trainers of the Buffalo Bills who performed with courage, steadfastness, and urgency in regard to Damar Hamlin. We should be celebrating those trainers more.  2A. Athletic Trainers - And because I'm always around them, let's give it up for Athletic Trainers in general. They do so much and very much go unnoticed in the space of sports, athletics, and performance.  2B. Damar Hamlin - Praying for Hamlin and his family... 3. Broadway Bounceback - We all like to believe we're back from COVID, but we're not. But it's news like Broadway having its biggest week of sales since the pandemic began is some nice news. Everyone in the theatre industry deserves it.  3 Down 1. Damar Hamlin Situation - Horri