Dear Kevin

Kevin DurantMy man, you went and did it this time.

You threw down a seismic dunk on the Association by joining a club that won 73 games last year and came within a Superman’s cape performance by Lebron of ‘Best Ever’ status. You’re not much for nuance at this stage of your career, and I gotta admit . . . I dig it.

Now, all you have to do is win it all. As Stephen Spielberg would tell you, you gotta kill the whole shark because the audience expects nothing less. And so while this new Death Lineup you have rounded out could make a legit run at 70 wins if all goes according to plan, it’s gonna come down to the 16 games you have to win in May and June. Your new mates won 15 spring games this year and were five points short of winning a second straight title when the clock struck midnight on their magical season. It might as well have been a hundred points because the end result still feels empty.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for you. Really and truly and forever. I have been in deep love with your skills ever since you were a hotshot kid making Texas Longhorn basketball something worth watching. I remember the first time I watched you play, thinking that you possessed the silky smooth capture of a Jamaal Wilkes jump shot with the cool hand moves of George Gervin at go time. You had next in a league built on Rushmore legends, and I knew you had the kind of special to carve a spot of your own.

It began with that short stint in Seattle- which was a fitting destination for your supersonic talents- before making Oklahoma City your home. For nine years, you did the place proud, on and off the court. You went and took a football enclave and turned spring football into a fallback option. When you made the finals against Miami, it was a bittersweet proposition for yours truly. I would’ve been thrilled with a tie. But that’s not how it works in sports.

As you well know, it’s all about winning the last game of the season. No matter how great you are, no matter how transcendent a player you might be, people demand that 35 wins a ring. In OKC for sure, in Golden State? Most definitely.

Anything less than a ring will be considered an epic fail. So lemme be the first to recognize that you did not take the ‘easy’ route as your critics claim. These people have no idea how to set a pick and roll, much less master it. They never made a defensive stop when they needed to, or sank a free throw with the season on the line or knocked down a three as the clock went blank. There is no such thing as ‘easy’ in professional sports. As Pat Riley once opined, there’s winning and there’s misery. He knows of what he speaks from his time in Los Angeles and Miami. Building a Hall of Fame lineup guarantees you nothing, other than the vitriol of every fan base that ain’t yours.

The haters are pulling out archival proof that you’re a phony because your decision doesn’t jibe with their opinions. I guess you were supposed to base a life changing decision on the Twitter feed. Rest assured, many of these same critics have taken turns trashing and adoring Lebron for more than a decade. So there’s that.

As for the revisionist history being thrown around, let’s review. The critics contend that back in the day, star players were anchored to their teams like a Norman Rockwell painting. Which is interesting, seeing as how Maravich, Wilt, Kareem, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley all changed uniforms in their primes. That last fella has been awfully noisy about your move, but he changed zip codes a couple times in search of a ring. Funny how that works.

I wish the haters would stop throwing the halcyon days of Magic, Bird and Jordan in your face when they get on their soapboxes. Such talk fails to acknowledge the chasm that exists between their past and your present. It asks us to consider their motives retroactively, because that’s the only way their argument can work. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick to understanding the league and its players inside the times we’re living in.

Listen, I daydreamed about you in a Miami Heat uniform. And I agreed with my son when he said Boston was a pretty solid idea. Not to mention, I was intrigued about your chances in OKC next year with a team that had added Oladipo and possessed a belief that they could take the Warriors out next time around.

But see, here’s the thing. Those were my wishes and opinions. Not yours. And I think the critics are forgetting how all this free agency business works. But I won’t, promise. I’ll be rooting for big things from you in your new Bay area digs. And if you win it all, I’m gonna be pretty damned happy about it. I rooted like hell for Cleveland this June, but as a ball fan, I’m allowed to change things up. And so are you.

All that has to matter, all that should matter is what you feel in your heart. And not for nothing, but if Mom is good with it, you’re doing just fine. Your career to this point has been a basketball life well lived. All that’s left for you to do is write the ending. So don’t worry about the critics and the clowns. You just keep doing what you’ve been doing all along.

Finish strong.

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17 thoughts on “Dear Kevin

    • Hey!

      I missed you, seriously missed you,

      And thank you kind sir. Coming from you, I feel great about my ode to KD- who as you can probably tell- is my favorite player in the Association.

      Thank you again.

    • No, the site’s right, just on a small sabatical from writing while my life’s done a bit of a 180. All’s good now. Best it’s ever been! Life can be cool again if you let divorce teach you to be better, not bitter.
      Been reading you all the while. Still a fan. As #35 is a huge fave of mine as well, your piece on his decision to move to the left coast was just so spot on, so Cayman, that I had to chime in.
      Hope all’s good in your world. Miss the comments and the chats as well. Thanks for the kind words as always.

      • Well, I am always happy to see you. Yes, divorce is all about stay positive and moving on. Better not bitter, I like it. And I agree.

        As for the rest of the FA frenzy, wouldn’t it be nice if the Knicks current roster was a collective five years younger? As it is, I hope these guys can stay semi-healthy and make some noise at the Garden. It’s been too long. I love Noah, wanted him in Miami even though it made no real sense for us. I feel for Rose, dude hasn’t been able to stay healthy. As for Westbrook, I can see LA or Miami….next summer.

        Don’t be a stranger, I miss you.

  1. As a life long Warriors fan who spent a looooong time in the wilderness as they struggled through far too many down years, I’ve enjoyed the last two years. What’s been the best part about it, besides the winning, is that the players on the team clearly have fun playing basketball. And they really seem to have fun playing with each other. Contrast that with the teams where the stars have permanent scowls and look like they’re at work rather than playing a game (yes, I’m talking to you, Lebron and Kobe and a whole lot of others) and you begin to see why Durant made his decision. My problem with it is that the Warriors don’t need Durant. What they needed was interior help and they needed to maintain the strength of their bench. Signing him in what is no more than a rent-a-player deal, makes those two things virtually impossible. And that’s the other thing that bothers me. I get that there will be more money available to him because he can exercise that option next year, but signing the contract he did instead of a longer term contract shows he doesn’t really have a commitment to this team.

    And, yes, I agree with your larger point. All of the pressure is now on this team. Anything less than a championship will be considered a failure. One wonders what will happen when all of their scorers realize there aren’t enough shots in an NBA game to keep them all happy. One of my ideas is that Curry needs to evolve into a true point guard and after leading the league in scoring this year, lead the league in assists now.

    • King!

      Glad to see you, dude. And yes, yes, yes . . . I do have to agree with you that the Golden State cap gets blown on repetitive stockpiling rather than concentrating on the team’s true needs. As Miami learned, the hard way, putting all your eggs into the big three basket leaves precious little for the other guys. After which you have to hope veterans sign on for the minimum for a chance at a title. And will Durant stay or will he go? Hmmm, I wonder myself. I would hope he stays and is just drawing it out in order to get more of his next offseason, but this coming season WILL be a cauldron for the club, and if it goes awry? All bets are off on what happens next.

      The Dubs were thisclose to a second straight titles, and messing with that chemistry is always a tenuous thing. Will it work? I have no idea, but I’ll be rooting for it to work. Because you’re right, Warriors fans had to live through the ages of Siberia to get back to this place. One of the few highlights of the forty years that separated title teams was Sleepy Floyd’s fifty one point game against the Lakers in a playoff game back in the day.

      I hope they win, because they are an infinitely likeable squad led by a basketball lifer in Steve Kerr, whose personal story is quite interesting.

      High Five King!

      • Yes, yes, and yes.

        As I’ve said, they’ve brought a little fun and joy back into a sport that seemed to be grinding itself down.

        But you know … I’m not sure I want it to work. I don’t like the super team thing. I didn’t like it in Miami and I don’t like it when I hear the rumors about players trying to do that again. As much as I want to see the Warriors do well, I’m not sure I can get over my distaste for the super team concept. Truthfully, they’ve done it a little differently. I mean, Curry, Thompson, and Green were all drafted by the team. It’s not like a bunch of free agents got together and went to the same team at the same time, but still.

        Well, we’ll see. It will be interesting, if nothing else.

  2. Kevin would love this. So would Kevin’s momma. 🙂

    I think the ending was especially strong… your closing is sage advice to anyone. Do your thing, keep momma happy, disregard the haters, live your life well, finish strong. Reminds me of advice mom gave me, “Do what makes you happy. Be proud of it.”

    I mean, I don’t really get what the big deal is about KD switching teams. You better believe the team owners are looking out for themselves, and their bottom line is money. It’s business to them. Why shouldn’t players be allowed to do the same. Oh wait, free agency made it so they can. It’s a totally different world now…in sports AND in business. Used to be, people spent their entire lives with one company, they retired with full benefits and pension and respect due, but then business started early retirement programs and downsizing (guess who got downsized…all the ones close to tenure and pension) and making cuts to benefit programs. It was all about the money and shareholders. Then that mentality trickled down to employees. And the employees learned they couldn’t depend on business to always do right by them, so they had to start looking out for themselves. And now? The average person changes jobs/employers how many times in their life? Some studies say an average of 15; some say an average of 6. But the younger the generation, the higher number of jobs.
    From Forbes.com

    The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.

    Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. That means they would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!
    (One thing I learned from corporate management…people don’t quit jobs, they quit their managers or their work environment. So if you want better employees, be a better employer.)

    And look at football. Those guys bounce around teams like pinballs. Does it make it right? Depends on who you ask I guess. But these are the days we are living in, and you’re right, you can’t live by yesterday’s standards in today’s free market environment,

    At the end of the day, the only one you can trust and depend on to do the right thing for you, is YOU. And maybe your momma, if you’re lucky. Applies to basketball, business, life, anything.

    Great job hon.

    PS- Didn’t know KD was a Longhorn. Very cool. 🙂

    • People quit their managers or work environment indeed! Yes, I do agree with that statement by and large. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother and a few of her friends years ago. They were railing on about how shitty this was, how problematic that was….and I said to them, “We’re not living in 1956”. In other words, life doesn’t look the way it used to look so it’s up to us to change.

      I mean, I wouldn’t mind if it was 1956, but it ain’t. And so the idea that Mickey Mantle wouldn’t take Bryce Harper money, that he would be like “Oh, that’s alright fellas, I’m gonna keep playing for the love of the game.”…..huh? Wha? What? No. And it’s the same thing with FA. Would I prefer Wade stayed in Miami his entire career? Hells yeah. But I get why he felt like he had to move and I also get why Riley had to draw a line. It’s business. And for Charles Barkley to criticize anyone on this subject is a bit hypocritical, seeing as how he told Sixers management he wanted out and that he wanted to go play for a winner.

      At the end of the day, I want to be entertained. And I get what I’m looking for. And Kevin got what he was looking for. And so did Momma.

      Thanks Mad Sexy!

    • “I think the ending was especially strong… your closing is sage advice to anyone. Do your thing, keep momma happy, disregard the haters, live your life well, finish strong. Reminds me of advice mom gave me, “Do what makes you happy. Be proud of it.””

      Nailed it!

  3. This is so true. I trip out on how everybody has all these opinions, which they’re entitled to have, and all these haters just get a kick out of being nasty I don’t get it. And you’re right, in the end what really matters is what he believes and what his mama thinks. Everyone else is just extra 🙂

    • And as I wrote, Cali, there is no guarantee this works. Will they have a crazy good starting lineup? Of course. But there have been a LOT of crazy good lineups that didn’t win. Kevin put the pressure on himself when he signed on with Golden State. He understood the expectations would be through the roof and he accepted that. Which is why I don’t consider this the ‘easy’ route.

  4. I so wish you would mail your letter to Kevin. I loved it!
    Admittedly, I’m a bit lost with all the history and such, so I listen to my son (and to you) in all things NBA. My son shares your sentiment and is already looking forward to next season.
    It always intrigued me how people throw their arms up when an NBA free agent leaves (I do remember the whole LeBron exit from Cleveland). Every other sport does so, right? I mean…I’m not gonna be happy when Moose or Hosmer end up somewhere else, but I expect it.
    I read Christy’s labor statistics and suddenly, I’m feeling like a lifer. Ten years at my first job, going on sixteen for my second. Damn. I wish I’d get traded somewhere cool…like the beach.
    But, that’s a whole ‘nother topic.
    Thank you for educating me on Mr. Durant. Didn’t he play college ball about the same time as Michael Beasley? Seems I remember them both playing Big-12 at the same time (Mike was Kansas State). I could totally be wrong – I was probably making pancakes at the time 🙂

    • Mama,

      I did the modern day equivalent, I tweeted the post to him. He only has six million followers, so I’m under no illusions that he’s gonna see my ode to KD. But why not send it anyway? Someone is gonna feel the love, and I’m happy for that. We all need some happy nowadays.

      Michael Beasley was indeed a Kansas State guy, and he was the second pick in the draft a year after Durant had been the second pick in the draft. Beasley was chosen by my Heat, and it never really worked out. We traded him in, I believe 2011. Everybody remembers the Bulls taking Rose number one, present company included.

      And hell yeah to the FA thing. The MLB has what’s called a hot stove people! And last I looked, it is an incredibly exciting period of time that helps extend the season just a little bit longer. I never understood why GM’s and owners are hailed for building super teams but when the players decide to do it themselves? Oh nooooo!

      Thanks Mama!

  5. Now, all you have to do is win it all. As Stephen Spielberg would tell you, you gotta kill the whole shark because the audience expects nothing less.

    Finish strong.

    And he did.
    And his mom was right there beside him.

    You should reblog this. 🙂

  6. WOOT!

    AND YES!

    Great idea, Mad Beauty.

    KD broke out this season, becoming THE player on the best team in basketball without upsetting the apple cart. My favorite moment in a series of pretty cool and favorite ones was when he got out of his car to celebrate with fans outside the arena. He was loving the moment, and soaking every last bit of it up. Well deserved.

    Mwah!

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