Let's cut right to the chase. My grandmother once told me that to judge another man before walking a mile in his shoes is a mistake, and that to continue to do so is the ultimate sign of weakness.
So excuse me for being somewhat perplexed at all of these grown men out here catching feelings because Kevin Durant exercised his hard-earned rights as an NBA free agent to decide to work for another employer.
To paraphrase Grandma, "Well excuse him for living!"
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
There are millions of people out here who agree with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who says, "“Well, I’m viewing it as the weakest move I’ve ever seen from a superstar.”
This isn't the first time that the television personality has taken things personally with KD. When Durant said one of his reports about him was a bunch of fabricated bulldookie, Smith went into full Detective Alonzo Harris-mode, screaming, "You do not want to make an enemy out of me! Shoe Program!!!"
Really? The weakest move ever from a superstar. Nah my man, that would be dudes not being fathers to their children, or beating up their women, or perhaps even murdering a woman out of a fit of jealous rage, or even suggesting that women bring domestic violence upon themselves.
Don't give a damn what anyone says: weak move by KD. You go to GSW, the team who beat you, when you're already on a title contender? Please!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 4, 2016
“Kevin Durant is one of the top three players in the world," Smith said during his emotional, demonstrative and animated appearance on ESPN yesterday after Durant announced that he would be joining the Golden State Warriors. "And he ran away from the challenge that he faces in order to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s a little bit better."
Ran away from the challenge? Nah bruh, he ran towards the challenge of the only thing that seems to matter in sports today in terms of creating an everlasting legacy. And that is collecting rings.
Do you recall the atmosphere around Gary Payton and Karl Malone, two of the game's all-time greats, taking less money to join Shaq and Kobe's Lakers in pursuit of an NBA title? Everybody wants to put this onus on LeBron, this supposed poisonous and brotherly AAU culture that is ruining the competitive nature of the sport, and this evil concept of the "Super Team."
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But prior to "The Decision", where was all that jibberish when The Glove and The Mailman went to the Lakers?
But now this is all LeBron's fault, and KD is weak, and cats are taking shortcuts to a championship. Right?
Guess what, there is no such thing as a shortcut to a ring. The entire mention of such is just dumb.
In 1970, Oscar Robertson filed suit against the NBA, asserting that the draft, option clause and other rules restricting player movement were violations of antitrust laws. His lawsuit sought an end to the option clause that bound a player to a single NBA team through perpetuity and to demolish restrictions on free agent signings, among other things.
2016 commemorates the 40th anniversary of the lawsuit being settled and the resulting Oscar Robertson Rule, which helped NBA players become the first professional athletes to achieve free agency, altering the balance of power in professional sports.
But instead of celebrating what it meant, and the ramifications that have allowed the likes of not just LeBron and Kevin Durant, but any other NBA player who has ever penned a free agent contract ever since, most dudes want to insert themselves in the narrative, authoritatively telling other people what they should and should not do.
Kevin Durant, along with guys like Mike Conley, Pau Gasol, Zaza Pachulia, Rajon Rondo, Eric Gordon, Bismack Biyambo, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and anyone else who benefited from the Big O's lawsuit this summer did not create the laws of polarity and gravitivity that govern supply and demand.
But winning an NBA title with the signing of superstar free agents does not guarantee an overnight championship. Study the game, and you'll see a Lakers roster with Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West that couldn't beat the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the Finals.
And I can hear the curmudgeons now screaming about how the players they give any real credence to post-1980 - Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson - never walked away to join another squad.
To quote my man Herm Edwards, "Umm, HELLO!!!"
Larry Bird played with Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and a host of phenomenal role players. Magic had Kareem, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Coop and his own array of great subs and glue guys.
And the one guy everyone is so intent on comparing KD and LeBron to, MJ, had the greatest team coach in pro basketball history in the Zen Master, an All-Time great in Scottie Pippen, an All-Time great in Dennis Rodman and an incredible cast of role players throughout the years, from Bill Cartwright to Horace Grant to Steve Kerr to BJ Armstrong to Craig Hodges to Bison Dele to John Paxson, etc.
Of course those guys didn’t leave. Why in the world would they?
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Had they come along in the modern age, after looking across the locker room at cats like Anderson Verajao, Pavlovic, Boobie Gibson, Larry Hughes, Ira Newble and Scott Pollard, I would love to have seen how Bird, Magic and MJ would’ve handled that.
I can can hear the emotional outbursts of, "Durant's OKC team was up 3 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals. How can you walk away from that and join the team that beat you when you were so close? Why walk away from that challenge?"
They're suggesting that a ring with Golden State cheapens his legacy. That's dumber than Sarah Palin.
Durant still has plenty of years left, barring a catastrophic injury, to win NBA Championships. LeBron's rings in Miami are not devalued in the historical sense. They're equal to the two rings that Isiah Thomas won with the Pistons, whether you like it or not.
In today's currency, the ring is the thing. Period. It's downright silly to castigate him for leaving OKC. It's actually the mark of an unstable individual who does so. He's taking ownership of his own professional trajectory, whether you like it or not.
Nobody has a problem with the most accomplished investment banker at J.P. Morgan leaving for Goldman Sachs because he feels that it's a better company. No bulb-headed moron is standing on Wall Street screaming that it was a weak move. No, we celebrate, in any other endeavor, when folks take command of their professional life.
But not in the NBA, it seems.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Cats out here getting real emotional about KD deciding to work for another employer is hilarious to me, especially in light of his statement, released yesterday, where he says, "The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors."
I don't recall any of these bulbous blowhards getting emotional when Clay Bennett ripped the heart, and the franchise, out of Seattle for his own greener pastures. And ya'll want to sit here and scream about loyalty, right.
KD never held his team hostage or demanded that they either trade him or fire the coach. He just wanted to win. He filled each minute in Seattle and OKC with 60 seconds worth of distance run and played his heart out every time he stepped on the floor. And he made a whole lot of people a whole lot of money.
And looking at the blueprint of where Golden State will be down the road, versus where OKC could be, it seems that KD made the best business decision possible. Who knows what will happen with Russell Westbrook own free agency bonanza next summer. KD's other best teammates throughout his career thus far, Serge Ibaka and James Harden, now play for the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets.
Other than Westbrook, where is OKC going, no matter how good Steven Adams could be, with the likes of Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler, Anthony Morrow and Victor Oladipo?
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti said in a statement, "Kevin made an indelible mark on the Thunder organization and the state of Oklahoma as a founding father of this franchise. We can’t adequately articulate what he meant to the foundation of this franchise and our success. While clearly disappointing that he has chosen to move on, the core values that he helped establish only lead to us thanking him for the many tangible and intangible ways that he helped our program."
Owner Clay Bennett said, "Kevin’s contributions to our organization during his nine years were profound, on and off the court. He helped the Thunder grow and succeed in immeasurable ways and impacted the community just the same. We thank him for his leadership, his play, and how he represented Oklahoma City and the entire state of Oklahoma."
But we have people out here casting aspersions on the man's reputation for doing what is best for him. I can't do it. As a matter of fact, I'm happy for him and the control he gets to exercise. It's something that Oscar Robertson and the greats before him fought and sacrificed for.
People always want to tell you what somebody else should do, making judgments of others without having ever walked in their shoes. Grandma taught me the folly in that years ago.
But look around at all of these dudes yelling and screaming about KD's decision, calling him a coward, weak and whatever else they choose to call him. Guess they never learned that lesson.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Weak? The weakest move ever by an NBA superstar?
Well, I subscribe to the theory espoused by the great urban philosopher Frank Lucas, who once said, "The loudest one in the room, is the weakest one in the room."
Kevin Durant has always let his game do the talking. Some of us could learn a thing or two from that instead of inserting one's own insecurities into a one-sided yelling match.