ESNY

The latest Earth shattering move from Kevin Durant reminds us of just how far the NBA has come in terms of selfishness.

Once upon a time in this world of ours, loyalty stood for something. A loyalty to your friends, family and the people you work with on an everyday basis, was substantial.

For those who support Kevin Durant’s decision to take his basketball skills to the Bay Area, the loyalty discussion becomes a bit foggy.

Supporters of the move haven’t lost respect for Durant. They believe it was a sound business decision for KD. A 2-year (1-year LBJ modeled) deal to test the waters with Draymond and the Splash Brothers could be just what the doctor ordered for the 27-year old NBA superstar.

These supporters can spout their evidence all they want. It still doesn’t mean this was good for basketball.

For the hardened NBA fan who understands what makes this league function, Durant’s move to Golden State can be viewed as nothing less than a sad, dark day in the history of basketball.

For the first time in a very long time, the NBA showcased a great product in the spring. The playoffs weren’t great. The Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals, however, were legendary. Sure, there was only one competitive contest of seven finals games, but the storylines were overwhelming.

LeBron James was historic en route to bringing home a title to Cleveland – those starving fans of his home city. Stephen Curry and the Warriors were looking to complete the best season in Association history. The back and forth on the court (and in the media) created a semi-rivalry that old-school fans once remembered.

That is the most important thought – the rivalry aspect.

What Durant did on Jul. 4 of 2016 took away from the rivalry aspect of the NBA. In one fell swoop the Oklahoma City Thunder were crossed off any relevant championship list. This is a shame considering their incredible talent and what fans of the NBA could have had for many years with the Thunder and the Dubs.

The team who was just 48 minutes away from the finals, is now done. Stick a fork in them.

Instead of four or five legitimate championship contenders, we now have three or four.

It doesn’t matter, says the Durant supporter. He did what was right for him. He made this business move in effort to win a title, something he has yet to do in nine seasons with the Thunder.

This train-of-thought is garbage. It’s a rationalization of today’s superstar – the scared superstar who’s afraid of being left out in the cold without a ring.

It’s almost like Durant was fast asleep from the Summer of 2010 through the Summer of 2014.

LeBron made this very same mistake. The youngster suddenly got scared. He felt the best business move for his legend was to head off to Miami and win as many titles as possible. Whether his intentions were to always return home or not will never be clear. What is clear, though, is the respect the man was accredited with once he finally did it right.

He returned home, with his people and his organization. He finally did it the right way and is now appropriately adored.

Has Kevin Durant not learned anything from recent history? Whatever the Warriors do the next two seasons, it’ll be accomplished on Curry’s turf, not Durant’s. If the Dubs go 76-6 this coming season, it’ll be Curry and the Warriors, never Durant and the Warriors.

Durant decided he wasn’t great enough to get it done in Oklahoma City. He decided he, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Thunder weren’t good enough to get it done.

If Michael Jordan took this tact, he would have run out of Chicago prior to Scottie Pippen ever lacing them up for the Bulls (1988).

What most of these Durant supporters don’t understand is that Jordan actually had to take his lumps. He took beat-downs from the Detroit Pistons on an annual basis. He was forced to see Larry Bird step on his throat in the Eastern Conference every spring.

It wasn’t until Pippen matured and the beasts of the east died down that MJ finally broke through.

This mentality is dead in the NBA. It’s a solid part of why there are no rivalries. (The Charmin soft attitude of league rules is the main reason, but I digress.)

A guy like Jordan would have wanted to stomp on your throat or die trying. He’d never join the enemy like Durant just did.

But hey, if you’re a Durant supporter and believe this move was the right one, just understand history. Understand that the NBA is fast losing rivalries thanks to these type of “business decisions.”

Just like Miami in 2010, there’s a solid chance the Dubs don’t even win the finals in year one.

It doesn’t matter though. Today was a sad day for the NBA, much like the day “The Decision” invaded our living rooms.

The competitor understands obstacles stand in the way of greatness. He or she becomes obsessed with reaching the mountaintop with his/her people. They build and they maneuver. They understand if somebody leaves (possibly Westbrook), a plan must be put in place to overcome.

They don’t run.

The real competitor wants to beat the best, not join the best.

LeBron James eventually learned his lesson, culminating in one of the more incredible sports stories in quite some time. Whether Durant eventually learns his or not, we won’t know for quite some time.

Quite frankly, though, it doesn’t matter. Today is a sad day for basketball fans. Championship chasing is more important than real, knock your ass on the ground competition.

NEXT: Breaking Down The Knicks Starting Five

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is such a Skip Bayless-type article. This “selfish” thing is so stupid. The guy gave OKC nine seasons, two of which were MVP seasons, and God knows how much money he helped bring to that less-than-huge market. The guy doesn’t owe anything to OKC. He’s in his prime, and he wants to win a championship.

    This “loyalty used to matter” thing is ridiculous. He’s been loyal to OKC for a long time, and now he’s chosen to be loyal to himself. Once you pay your dues (and he absolutely has) there’s *absolutely* nothing wrong with doing something for *yourself.* I really hope this Skip Bayless, “saying shit just to say shit” garbage article gets minimal views.

    You’re mad he didn’t sign with the Knicks. Get over it.

    • ….you just backed up your “Skip Bayless” point with a Skip Bayless idea of your own by saying: “You’re just mad he didn’t sign with the Kniicks.”

      Preach it, but don’t do it yourself.

      • …it’s decidedly NOT a “Skip Bayless idea” if it’s a FACT.

        You’re ANGRY he didn’t sign with the Knicks, so like everyone else you’re taking the “selfish” angle, as if the guy hasn’t paid his dues and isn’t entitled to do something for himself for once.

        You have a nice life, now.

        • …when LBJ went to Miami, I hammered him. When he returned to CLE, I praised him. When he won this past season, I adored him.

          According to your theory, I should be salty towards LBJ for not choosing the Knicks….yet all I do is praise the guy for doing the right thing.

          You just preached something that you did yourself: Pretending to know the reason I’m hammering Durant.

          Just read it again. I hammered him (much like so many people who don’t live in NYC), for the title chasing, selfish, scared way he conducted himself.

          • Three things:

            1. I don’t know why you’re bringing up Lebron, but I’m assuming it’s because you consider the situations essentially the same? I don’t, and I didn’t bring up Lebron because we’re talking about Durant. Lebron had a “special” on ESPN to reveal his decision (which raised over a million dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of America) and if you calling Lebron selfish for turning what would’ve otherwise been a run-of-the-mill free agent departure (in which LBJ, in my opinion, was probably thinking “I’ve given seven years of my life to a team that hasn’t shown me they’re willing to sign top-tier free agents to help me win anything, and I know for a fact that the Heat are willing to add both myself, Chris Bosh [who was two years removed from being top-5 in the MVP race], and Ray Allen to a team that already has Dwayne Wade and is four years removed from a championship, so I’m going to go there because their level of commitment to winning is higher than the level of commitment of the Cavaliers”) into an ESPN special that raised over a million dollars for the Cleveland chapter of a local charity, I don’t know what to tell you. You seem like a smart guy though, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t consider the guy selfish for something so obviously unselfish. So was it the fact that he left the team at all that made him selfish? You’re really *so sure* he didn’t do the “right thing?” Also, I gotta tell you: That is SUCH a nebulous thing to say — the “right thing?” For whom? How many years does a person have to dedicate to someone else before the person can do the “right thing” for themselves in an otherwise obviously one-sided relationship and not be a bad, selfish guy? (And just in case you’re planning on saying “the relationship wasn’t one-sided, Cleveland paid him a ton of money:” No. There’s not a team in the NBA that wouldn’t have paid Lebron literally anything he wanted to play for him at that time. He went and got PAID in Miami, and is so good that he’s done nothing but dictate his own terms everywhere he’s gone since. He’s paid his dues, done things in the way other people wanted him to do things, and now he’s doing things his own way. There’s nothing unfair or “selfish” about it.

            2. I believe you’re calling Durant “selfish” because he didn’t sign with the Knicks. I can’t say WHAT I believe about why you thought LBJ signed with the Heat other than I think you’re wrong — I don’t think it was selfish at all. I didn’t read your “Selfish superstar signs with Heat” article. That’s not a dig at you, it’s simply a fact.

            3. Me saying it’s “not a Skip Bayless idea if it’s a FACT” is me admittedly setting myself up for a situation in which I win either way — Unless you’re a huge Skip Bayless fan (please tell you’re not), I’m sure you know that Skip doesn’t deal in facts. Therefore, me saying something isn’t a Skip Bayless idea if it’s a fact is a truth. However, the implication obviously was that it’s a fact that you were labelling KD selfish because he didn’t sign with the Knicks. It wasn’t fair of me to play with words like that, so I apologize for the unfairness. It’s genuinely NOT the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard, because I specifically wrote that phrase so that no matter how you read it, I could just say I was commenting on Skip being an asshole who doesn’t deal in facts. But I digress.

            The bottom-line: I can’t reconcile, using any of the reasons you mentioned in your article, why *anything you wrote* would honestly make you believe KD was selfish for choosing to go to Golden State. I’m a 76ers fan. It ain’t easy being a basketball fan in Philly, just like I’d imagine it ain’t easy being a basketball fan in New York. I know what player loyalty means to a passionate fan base. However, I’m also realistic about what that loyalty entails, and how *after awhile,* if I really give a damn about the guys who play their asses off for my team and want them to succeed (and subsequently find that higher level of happiness that only comes to an athlete when they’re crowned “champion”), I could *never* label a guy selfish if he’d given nine years of his career to my team after LITERALLY playing the *most instrumental role* in making my franchise what it is (and despite Russell Westbrook being a monster, I think we can both agree that KD was the heart, soul, and face of the franchise as it grew and matured into something viable), and then decided to pursue opportunities to win elsewhere that are SO OBVIOUSLY BETTER than the one my team was offering. Yes, the Thunder had Golden State down 3-1. YES, Golden State won the series anyway. Another year of losing to Golden State, with a cast of characters that wasn’t changing. Steven Adams would’ve arguably been better next year, sure, but is Steven Adams really going to be the guy that tips the balance? Maybe you think so, but I sure as hell don’t.

            At the very least, I’m sure we can agree that KD paid his dues to OKC. He was the face of the franchise before it had spent a single second on the court. He is the *biggest reason* that they are as respected, strong, and stable as they are now. He left them with a *wonderful* legacy — that of a team that cares about winning, and who plays with grit and heart. Could Russell Westbrook alone have built that franchise the way KD did? Maybe. I don’t think so, personally, but maybe he could’ve. Regardless, KD DID, and for anyone to call him selfish for choosing to put himself in a better position to WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP after giving nine years of everything he had (as evidenced by him having 4-of-the-last-7 scoring titles and an MVP) to a city whose claim to legitimacy is owed to him more than *any other player on that team* is just crazy to me. Implying that he’s selfish because he’s chasing a title (as you did with your *headline*) is dumbfounding. He is a professional athlete who has done EVERYTHING except win a title. He’s built the reputation of an expansion franchise in fine fashion. He’s won multiple scoring titles. He made multiple All-Star and All-NBA teams. He’s won an MVP.

            …but he didn’t believe he’d win a title in OKC because there was *not* going to be meaningful change in OKC. He is a professional athlete who wants to reach the only high the sport offers that he hasn’t yet reached. Players play for money, sure, but like Lebron, KD could’ve gotten his money anywhere in the NBA. He chose GS becuase they gave him the best chance to win a championship, and people like you are calling him selfish for it.

            That’s a “Skip Bayless” thing to do… and if me saying you’re angry because he didn’t sign with the Knicks is a Skip thing to do? Fine, I’m a hypocrite who has the same Skip tendencies you do. Doesn’t make KD any less selfish for what he did, and it doesn’t make you any less wrong for suggesting otherwise.

            Just my opinion though. ::shrug::