It’s the question on America’s mind: After Kevin Durant abandoned Oklahoma City to join forces with the Golden State Warriors and their garbage fans, who would blurt out the shittiest, most predictably obnoxious, pseudo-macho take possible? Would it be Stephen A. Smith, who previously threatened Durant and then called him weak? Would it be the duo over at All Takes Matter? Would it be flag shorts guy? Would it be Indy Star writer and noted punk-rock dad Gregg Doyel, who went ahead and decried KD for initiating the apocalypse of our national innocence?
Durant is merely the latest and most dramatic example of today’s spineless NBA star and what that means for franchises like the Pacers. Until now the Warriors did it humbly – drafting Curry seventh in 2009, Thompson 11th in 2011 and Green 35th in 2012.
OOOOH POOR PACERS. What chance do those small-town kids have against the BIG BAD MEGABUCKS teams, except for the Knicks and Nets and Lakers and probably the Bulls too?
Or what about the guy who dusted off the classic “Where is his competitive spirit?!?” take people were pushing when LeBron left Cleveland?
Again: He can do this. It’s a free world and a free market. But where is Durant’s competitive spirit? Barely a month ago, Durant walked out of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals after his Thunder lost the last three games of an epic series. Competitive zeal should have made him want another shot at those guys. Isn’t that why we watch, why we play, why we care?
Those are all viable candidates, to be certain. But no. No, America, these do not represent the nadir of panicky Durant takeage. For that, we must turn to an old friend… a very short, braying, diminutive friend. Straight from a 1992 time capsule, with Mitch Albom nodding fervently at his side… it’s MIKE LUPICA.
Here is the path that Kevin Durant now takes to the Golden State Warriors: the path of least resistance.
AWWW YEAH, BITCH. That’s what I’m talking about. Forgoing tens of millions of dollars to join up with a team whose expectations in 2017 will be unfathomably high, and then playing 82 punishing regular season games before enduring the bruising gauntlet that is playoff basketball, with a still-immortal LeBron awaiting you at the very end? WAY TO TAKE SHORTCUTS, DIPSHIT.
And please don’t tell me how much the guy wants to win.
Why not? Is that not noble?
LUPICA: I wish sports were more about winning than money!
ME: (delivers Durant news)
LUPICA: DON’T GIVE ME THAT TIRED SPIEL ABOUT WINNING, YOUNG MAN
Everybody wants to win. Of course this is not so different from what LeBron James did when he first began to treat the National Basketball Association like a gaudy, grown-up version of AAU ball.
Ooooh, AAU ball! That’s the one where they play basketball outside of school! With the shoes and everything! SPOOKY.
But this is more and, in a lot of ways, this is worse.
Durant doesn’t just take the path of least resistance on his way out of Oklahoma City.
Leaving his home team and having his jersey burned by a bunch of unreasonable nutjobs—who expect absolute fealty, and will discount any championship if it’s not won according to their own arbitrary and unknowable set of grit criteria—does not necessarily strike me as the path of least resistance. If Durant had signed an extension with OKC while wearing a fanny pack, you would have personally massaged his prostate.
He goes and plays with the team he had 3-1 and couldn’t finish, partly because he couldn’t do for his team what LeBron just did for his new (or is it old?) team in Cleveland.
THE FUCKING COWARD.
This doesn’t mean Durant isn’t a wonderful young man.
Then what’s your point?
He is a wonderful young man.
“This wonderful young man is a wonderful young man. But he should be in jail. Also, Sonny Vaccaro is behind all this somehow.”
Who could ever forget the eloquent, moving speech he gave about his mother when he won his MVP award, about her love and her sacrifice and his own journey?
I know! Turns out that going to Golden State has killed her. She’s dead now. RIP Kevin’s mom. Your Real MVP award has been vacated as a result of this shocking betrayal.
This is the gaudiest example you will ever see in sports of a guy deciding that if he can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.
Ah, but it’s not. Deion joined the Niners. Junior Seau joined the Patriots. Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined the Lakers. Half of MLB joined the Yankees for money and rings. This happens all the time in sports and, shockingly, it doesn’t always work out because you still have to complete the still-Herculean task of winning a championship. That’s why they play the games, etc.
A friend of mine, one of the smartest sports fans I know…
…sent me this email at warp speed on Monday morning once Durant announced on The Players’ Tribune — players control everything else in sports these days, why not their message?
ZOMG players having free will! And openly typing in public! Disgusting. I’m so repulsed I’m attaching an URGENT flag to this express email.
— that he had decided to take his talents to the Bay Area: “Imagine if LeBron’s Cavs blew a 3-1 series lead to Heat in 2010 Eastern Conference Finals before heading to play for Miami a month later.”
I bet the nation would have reacted unfavorably! Good thing they treated LeBron with kiddie gloves when he made the move anyway.
That is exactly what Durant does, except not after a conference final, but after one of the most watched and most compelling, dramatic NBA Finals in all of NBA history.
“You shouldn’t go to Golden State, because many people watched you play against them.”
This is Durant showing that he has completely bought into the gotta-have-a-ring mentality that dominates the current culture in sports, completely buying into the notion that if you don’t win a championship, you are nothing.
Boy, I wonder where they might have gotten that idea from. Certainly not from the media, or from fans, or from management, or from the New York tabloids, which are so terribly forgiving...
This kills me. Every athlete needs a title to secure his or her legacy, but even THAT isn’t enough. No, you gotta stay with one team, and you gotta build that enterprise from scratch, like you’re goddamn Milton Hershey. Anything less is cheating or something.
I love the idea that this move might make the Warriors the best team ever.
Okay. Again, you have no point.
Well, yeah, but only if they change the rules about playing with just one basketball.
Oh, shit! He totally flipped the script on me there. They might be the best team, unless horny EGOS get in the way. I hope Mike gets a big stepladder and personally etches SELFISH into the side of Durant’s hair.
There will be the notion in the media, written and yakked, that if you don’t make what Durant just did into some kind of sports sacrament that you are living in the past, or expressing some kind of outrage that he took the easy way out.
There’s no outrage here.
But guess what? He does take the easy way out. One hundred percent.
(takes a shit, throws shit out the window)
(The Warriors) win 73 regular season games and finally lose the NBA Finals in seven games, and the only possible way to make things right — and to get the world properly spinning on its axis again — is by signing the best free agent on the market and one of the best basketball players on the planet in Durant.
Are they not supposed to do that? Is that too mean? “You guys, let’s not vastly improve our team in order to potentially redeem ourselves in 2017. What kind of message would that be sending to Mike Lupica and his dipshit Little League traveling team?”
You know something? We may never know how good a coach Steve Kerr really is.
He already won a title and presided over the greatest regular season team in basketball after suffering from a horribly debilitating neck injury. I think I can venture a guess as to his coaching ability. I deem it yakked.
Again: This is LeBron, plus.
LeBron + MORE BAD = You, Kevin.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the things LeBron did was trade in Wade for Irving like he was looking for a younger trophy guard, as a way of getting his arms around the O’Brien Trophy. It ended up working for him.
Good. Watching that was fucking awesome.
Maybe it will for Durant, even though he never has carried a team the way LeBron can and never will.
That’s exactly what people said about LeBron before he actually did it.
All right, little Mikey. Let’s wrap this up with some good ol’ fashioned handwringing…
We saw the business of modern NBA basketball…
Oh no! BUSINESS! Shield your eyes! It’s not like back when you watched THE MICK play. When you watched The Mick play, you KNEW it was for love of the game. You KNEW he donged homers and banged chicks under the bleachers because he was just a kid at heart. Like you.
…and modern NBA business, where the real general managers are the players now…
It’s like inmates running the asylum. Or kids running the school. Or babies running the day care center. It makes me want to vomit my guts out, knowing that these players have some measure of control over their careers, instead of gleefully entrusting it to the likes of Sam Hinkie. Did you know they run ADS during these games now? The Mick weeps in his gin-soaked grave.
…laid bare on July 4, 2016…
A day that will live in infamy.
…when the fireworks display was Golden State’s, and Kevin Durant’s. Durant gets to go play on his very own fantasy league team. He spoke on Monday of his “personal growth” as a player. Right.
With a team that just went 73-9. If he wins next season, it will practically be a “Rocky” movie.
I agree with Mike’s sarcasm here. What would Kevin really BE if he won a title with a team already well-positioned to do so? You might call him a brat. You might call him spoiled, and craven… someone with an overly inflated sense of his accomplishments and his stature given the resources afforded him. Why, if Kevin Durant ever wins a title with Golden State, he might end up sounding a whole lot like this guy.