Hoop Diaries with Jeremy Fitch
By Denton Day
In case you have not heard, former NBA MVP Kevin Durant has decided to open up a new chapter in his life. For a move that challenges him to step outside of his comfort zone and allows him to grow as a player and person, Durant will join the Golden State Warriors, the team that beat him in the playoffs.
Durant announced his decision in a letter penned to the Players Tribune and twitter absolutely lost it. Fans and media personnel alike either bashed him for being “weak,” some understood the decision, and others applauded him for making a move to help him win championships. Regardless of how you feel about his decision, Durant gave the NBA fans exactly what they wanted and something they have not truly had in about three or four years: Durant became the villain.
NBA fans love to have someone to root against. Fans tried to turn Durant’s newest teammate, Stephen Curry, into the bad guy in the NBA Finals this past season. That ended up failing because it is very difficult to hate a guy who looks like a teenager.
LeBron James was the last big villain after making a similar decision to Durant’s back in 2010, ditching his hometown team to win championships. Durant did not grow up in Oklahoma City, but in his letter he recognized that the city helped raise him and it is the franchise (though, in Seattle at the time) that drafted him.
Seeing him leave has to be a kick below the belt for the Oklahoma City Thunder fans. Durant truly gave his all to that city and was loved for it most of time and labeled “Mr. Unreliable” at other times.
Leaving now gives Durant the title of villain in the NBA. Just like James did in Miami, it might be crucial for Durant to embrace the role of villain. James said that the first year he tried not to be seen as a villain, and the Heat lost in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. The following year, James embraced it and he won his first championship, ironically defeating Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That was Durant’s first and only appearance in the NBA Finals.
The Slim Reaper, as Durant is known, is simply following the path that James trail blazed half a decade ago. Durant wants to win championships and the decision he made was to win championships.
Durant does not play the game of having the nicest things said about him on the Internet; he plays basketball, and his goal is to win championships. If that makes him a villain, then it is time for him to be a villain.
It worked with James, who won two championships in Miami before returning to Cleveland, and James is no longer viewed as the villain. In time, Durant will once again join the likes of LeBron James as the hero of the NBA. We do not live in a giant comic book; the villains do not always stay evil. Give it two or three years and Kevin Durant will not only have at least one or two NBA championships, but he will have millions of fans back in his corner because he is too good of a superstar not to like.