Every July 4th for 240 years, the USA has celebrated its Declaration of Independence from British rule. After that glorious day in 1776, a grueling war took place between the underdog Americans and the powerful Red Coats. During that War for Independence, one American major general named Benedict Arnold switched sides in the middle of the war, becoming synonymous with the word traitor.
On this Independence Day, 2016, the NBA has christened its new Benedict Arnold: former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. The superstar has just signed a 2-year deal with the team that knocked OKC out of the NBA Playoffs this season, the Golden State Warriors.
Durant is joining what was already a phenomenal team. However, with Splash Brothers of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a budding superstar in Draymond Green, and now Durant, the Warriors look like one of the scariest teams in this generation. The former Big Threes in San Antonio, Boston, and Miami do not compare to the new Core Four in Oakland.
While Kevin Durant just took a massive step toward an NBA Championship, his public approval rating just took a gigantic leap backwards. Immediately after Durant’s decision became public, there was a tremendous public outcry portraying Durant as a traitor and a fraud. Media members like Stephen A. Smith called Durant’s move the weakest move he’s ever seen from a superstar. His move from Oklahoma City to Golden State is seen as a betrayal of the organization he’s been with for his entire career, a selfish action in search of a championship, and a puzzling decision due to OKC’s already strong roster. However, these points can be debunked in various ways.
Kevin Durant Did Not Betray The Thunder
After nine years of giving his heart and soul to the city in the heart of the Great Plains, Durant’s hard work has supposedly vanished, according to the media and many fans. This is simply not the case.
‘The Durantula’ has been an integral part of the Oklahoma City community, helping numerous charities and businesses. The small forward put the town on the map in the sports world, making the Thunder a world-renowned squad and the city a great investment opportunity for companies. Those accomplishments don’t just dematerialize.
GM Sam Presti adequately explained Durant’s legacy in Oklahoma City 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.”
Durant made the Oklahoma City Thunder what it is today, a powerful force in the modern NBA. He attracted fans to the organization from all over the world, creating a strong Thunder Nation. True fans are not going to disappear now that Durant has departed. His leaving should turn into a rallying cry for the organization to an even brighter future.
Oklahoma City may have not attained an elusive NBA title with Durant, but that doesn’t take away from all of the other achievements garnered for the city. Any “fan” of the Thunder that burns a Kevin Durant jersey is burning the jersey of a modern Oklahoma City hero.
Crazy Criticism of Championship Chasing
Media members and fans crucified LeBron James for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in search of titles. Now, Kevin Durant is receiving the same brand of criticism. The hate that was thrown at James and is now being hurled at Durant is ignorant. It is almost like the world wants to take the word free out of free agency.
Sure, we all want to see a player stay in the same town for his entire career, for sentimental reasons. That is so selfish of us as fans, though. Players are not animals that teams keep as pets. They are human beings with free will.
Isn’t the ultimate goal for every NBA player an NBA title? Why should the rules be different for NBA superstars like Durant and James? People get too worked up over simple decisions that these players have every right to make.
This isn’t the old NBA. Players bounce around more than a kangaroo in a rubber room, even big names. It is time that we as a world come to grips with that fact and respect the players for their character and skills, not for how long they stay with a team or what team they are on.
The Thought Police Are At It Again
Many fans have harped on a difference between James’s leaving of Cleveland and Durant’s leaving of Oklahoma City. Cleveland had shown no traction in getting James help for a championship run. Oklahoma City had been making numerous moves in hopes of getting over the hump, including the recent move of trading Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo and other pieces. People have been dumbfounded by Durant’s “slap-in-the-face” to the Oklahoma City organization and his teammates.
But, do we have any right to judge the situation? We don’t know what Durant saw. He felt that the best option for him at this time was in Golden State. A player doesn’t have to agree with the media’s perception of a team’s moves. Durant might have not liked losing Ibaka, and he was reportedly disappointed that OKC missed out in the Al Horford sweepstakes. He shouldn’t be considered a traitor just because he disagreed with the opinions of some fans and media members, or even the direction of the team. He made a decision that he feels will help further his career. More power to him.
NBA legend and Golden State Warriors executive board member Jerry West outlined in a conversation with Durant several reasons why he should join GSW. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, West told Durant that if he came to Golden State, people would begin to think of him as more than just a scorer. Durant’s other tools would start to come to light, like his brilliant rebounding ability. People would start to see him as one of the best all-around players of the past two decades, and he’d have some titles to solidify his status. Clearly, Durant bought into that message. And why should he have not?
Kevin Durant is not a traitor. He’s a good man that made a decision for himself that he had every right to make. We shouldn’t pound the superstar for going after the elusive title of his dreams. Also, we shouldn’t criticize him for assessing his situation for himself.
Calvin Coolidge once said, “The business of America is business.” Shouldn’t the same be said of the NBA? Durant made a grown-up decision in a grown-up league. Shouldn’t that be celebrated?
On this Independence Day, America celebrates its freedoms and rights. Durant’s rights as a free agent should be honored just as much. Maybe not with fireworks and parades, but with respect.