OPINION: Sure, he could’ve won a couple more titles if he stayed at Oklahoma City or Golden State. But he was willing to try something new and he didn’t fear failure.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It’s said that nothing beats a failure but a try. Achieving a goal is the best outcome, followed by attempting it. Falling short is the least of those.
Such mindsets are common for risk-takers who rack up tremendous accomplishments. NBA superstar Kevin Durant is a prime example. He competed and won with Oklahoma City and then Golden State, but his efforts in Brooklyn crashed and burned. Faced with the option to try, try again or head for the door, he has chosen to exit.
Durant informed the Brooklyn Nets three years ago that he was coming aboard with his friend Kyrie Irving. Last August, KD signed a contract extension to remain in town. But on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Irving opted to stay (instead of making $30 million less someplace else), Durant asked to be shipped out. He instantly became one of the league’s most intriguing trade targets ever, a 12-time All-Star and four-time scoring champion who’s under contract for four more seasons.
His trade request rocked the NBA and added another layer to his fascination journey from Rookie of the Year with Seattle, to league MVP with OKC, to back-to-back Finals MVP with Golden State. Still, near the peak of his powers, his time in Brooklyn was a boo-boo, and that’s OK because you win some and lose some.
But he’s drawn crazy disrespect after winning, as Charles Barkley and less famous folks displayed after Golden State’s most recent championship. Losing only increases the number of aspersions and Durant faces more than a fair share. He’s blamed for constructing the Nets’ dynamic duo, as well as blowing up the remnants after one playoff series win in three seasons.
Sports talk nowadays is obsessed with lists and legacies, debates on who’s better and where they rank. Most observers readily acknowledge Durant as the best, second-best, or third-best player at worst over the last handful of years. But discussions about his path have weighed him down on every step.
He left OKC as a free agent and joined a championship team in the Warriors. “KD is soft for taking the easy way!” He left Golden State as a free agent and joined a fixer-up team in the Nets. “KD is insecure around Steph Curry and them!” This next move—from Brooklyn to wherever—will be more of the same.
Another soft target for those predisposed to take shots.
You can say Durant brought the madness on himself by linking with Irving, now firmly established as an unreliable teammate. You can say Durant exacerbated matters by co-signing Irving’s switch from a full-time non-participant to a part-time player (only road games) as the superstar guard refused to take the coronavirus vaccine. Irving’s shakiness reportedly caused a fed-up James Harden to bail, which arguably falls on Durant, too.
Taking everything into account, why wouldn’t Durant want to bounce? Even if it’s all his fault (not the case), why hang around a disaster? Whether Irving or team management deserve the largest slices of blame (they do), why stay with your unpredictable friend when hooping is your passion? Take the L and move on.
“When I play basketball, it’s not just for winning championships or beating LeBron or [being] the best,” Durant told The Ringer in March. “I feel like I’m playing against the game, whatever the game is that night. That’s my goal.” Regarding his stints with OKC—where fans burned his jerseys—and Golden State, where Draymond Green offered the ultimate compliment—Durant says those franchises realize what he represented.
“I better have a home (there),” he said to The Ringer. “Because I feel like I am basketball. I breathe it. This is my DNA. I put in the time and respect and love for each one of these programs on and off the floor to get that type of recognition,” meaning having his jersey retired. He thought the same could be true in Brooklyn one day, but now he knows better.
It’s strictly business, nothing personal. He and Kyrie can remain boys and separate as teammates; this isn’t an either/or proposition. Durant simply wants to ball, period, preferably without drama. Whatever the case, he has played for three teams and been elite for each one.
There’s no reason to expect less at his next destination. Sure, he might’ve won a couple more titles if he stayed at OKC or Golden State and enjoyed better health. But he was willing to try something new and he didn’t fear failure. Those are typically admirable traits in business and life…until we get to pro athletes like Durant.
He’s damned by some for exhibiting those qualities.
But here, it’s nothing but much respect for the Slim Reaper.
Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at blackdoorventures.com/deron
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