It is May 2014.
Kevin Durant wears No. 35 for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is standing on stage as he receives the NBA MVP award. To his immediate left sits the entire Thunder organization.
Fighting back tears, Durant thanks many people in his speech, including Russell Westbrook and the fans in Oklahoma City.
“The beautiful fans of Oklahoma City, I can’t say enough about you guys,” Durant said. “All the support you give our team. We disappoint you guys sometimes, but we try our best every single night to win for you guys. We want to win a championship for you guys. You love us how we are. We’re all a work in progress as men, and you still love us and I thank you so much for embracing us.”
Durant and the city of Oklahoma City are riding a joyous high, excited for the MVP and the championship trophy he would eventually help bring to Oklahoma.
It is September 2019.
Durant sits at home, with one less healthy Achilles. Now, he wears (or will wear) No. 7 for the Brooklyn Nets.
He got those rings everyone expected him to get without any Thunder but with a little more gold in the Bay Area.
The raw love and gratefulness has long since dissipated, and now Durant only expresses distaste and hatred to the city he once called home.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Durant said he will never reconcile with the town, team or front office of Oklahoma City.
“I’ll never be attached to that city again,” Durant said. “I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That [stuff] must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”
Wow. What a shift in emotions. Since living in Oklahoma City for four years and being an avid sports fan, I have realized Oklahoma City is home to devout, die-hard, relentless fans. The type who will stick by you no matter what, if you stick with them. Durant abandoned them; they abandoned him.
Throughout his life, Durant was always pursuing “better.” Better than a two-bedroom apartment in Maryland. Better than working as a rec league coach (an inspirational pursuit). However, this also translated to his life within the NBA.
He left the Thunder—a place where the earth-shattering wins were just out of their grasp. A place where, if you give your time and your heart, you will be idolized forever. A place where being the best is earned, not given easily. Just like thunder in a storm, it takes time for the weather to form and create a deafening sound. The team works the same way.
Durant instead ran after the gold in the Bay Area. A ready-made, win-now, get-rich-quick team. Durant became the MVP addition, which just raised the stock of an already good team. Did they need him? No. But he got his ring, he got his “better,” so he was satisfied.
Durant, always on this chase, has yet to find true satisfaction. Now, he sits in his seven bedroom, 12-bathroom Beverly Hills mansion with his infinity pool and does rehab twice a day, looking to revitalize the emotional side of his journey.
The Wall Street Journal article aims to express a raw, emotional side of Durant. With strong emotive words and black and white shirtless photos, the writer attempts to “strip” away the untouchable MVP-level athlete and deliver a man who is hurt and broken.
Instead, Durant comes across as a whiny multi-millionaire who is angered because his life did not quite work out the way he thought it would. So he attacks the Thunder. He attacks Golden State. He even attacks the NBA.
“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” Durant said. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”
How can you hate what you constructed?
Durant is the feature act of the NBA’s circus. His move to Golden State was the catalyst in an explosion of talent following wins and abandoning team loyalties. The league discussed for months where he would go in free agency, emphasizing the business side of the league, not basketball.
I will jump off Durant now to make a disclaimer. Athletes live in a seemingly untouchable world—under intense scrutiny—every decision, movement, expression on constant watch.
It is okay to express your opinion—clearly, I am doing that—but we cannot violently attack people we do not truly know.
Do I think Durant should have left Oklahoma City?
Do I think he deserved to receive harmful threats, personal attacks? Do I think he deserved to watch his jersey be shot at or burned?
Be careful not to take your sports talk into a realm of intense hatred and expressive violence.
Now back to Durant.
I think he needed some attention while he heals. He is bored, and now he has a way of being entertained.
In his chase for gold, he missed the mark and now he is stuck in a net of injury and waiting. Ironic, right?
I have so many more thoughts on Durant’s article and his evolution as a player. Catch me in the Brew or around campus if you want to talk about Durant. Or see memes of his feet.