Ever since Kevin Durant made his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, everyone has had something to say about it.
Fans, media personalities, ex-players, coaches and current players have all weighed in with their grievances. So many arm-chair psychologists were analyzing every perceived motivation that led to his decision and judging him accordingly.
Durant recently complimented the Warriors and said how much he enjoys playing there, calling his teammates “unselfish.” Naturally, a reporter took this statement to Russell Westbrook, prompting this not-at-all bitter response:
Russell Westbrook asked about Durant's recent comments about the Warriors having "selfless" players: pic.twitter.com/mdPOCOiZS5— Royce Young (@royceyoung) October 13, 2016
Next up was Clippers’ forward Paul Pierce who weighed in with some very laughable commentary where he judged Durant for deciding to join a team that beat him in the playoffs rather than stick with the almost-as-good team he was already on.
“That’s just me personally, but we’re living in a day and time where there’s a new generation. Guys I don’t think they are as hungry or competitive as my generation was, and that’s why you’ll probably see more of that.”
Someone needs to remind him that he should probably wait until he actually retires before telling the kids to get off of his lawn. He also had some comments pertaining to decisions he’d made in his own career:
“I’ve been in that position. I could have left Boston years ago, but I stuck it out. I just feel like when you’re that close, as a competitor, you don’t go join the team that just put you out.”
Like most of us, Draymond Green has had enough of this. Green had the following to say:
"I just wonder at what point do they get bored talking about the same thing. You got all these guys talking. Like [Paul] Pierce today, like, dude nobody care what you did or who you did it for. Just give it a break. Everybody got something to say and want to take everything he say and twist it. Like, he play with the Warriors. OKC has their team, we have our team. He left there. Nobody complain when somebody leave Apple and go to Google. Aren't they in competition with each other? Nobody talk junk about the CEO who leaves Apple and goes to Google. As a basketball player, you are the CEO of a business. You are a business. Kevin Durant is a big business. He is the CEO of that business. So him going to play basketball for a different team, the CEO decided to leave where he was at and go somewhere else."
"But there's so many guys in this league that are so stupid they don't think like that. They don't think business wise. It happens every day in the world. But in basketball it's a problem. Aren't you competitive in your day job if you work for Apple? Don't you want to outdo Google? What's the difference on the basketball court. It's your day job. You want to do what's better for you. If it's better for your family life, better for your happiness. Ain't no one criticizing them. I don't understand it. I'll never understand it. So that's just me. And I'd be willing to bet my salary ain't many guys in this league more competitive than me."
It’s worth mentioning that his point about Apple and Google CEOs is most likely not true, as they would likely have signed non-compete clauses which would not allow them to work with a direct competitor.
However that actually helps his point. Basketball players and athletes in general don’t have any obligation not to play for their team’s biggest competitor once they reach free agency. For a lot of them, it’s their only opportunity to actually choose where they want to play.
Also worth noting, the Warriors are every team’s biggest competition at this point. Pierce said, “I understand when you have great players on losing teams who are tired of losing, struggling in the playoffs every year.”
Let’s play devil’s advocate with that statement and wonder what he would have said if it were another elite All-Star player who left their poor-performing team for the Warriors. Say, DeMarcus Cousins. I can’t believe that he would not face just as much criticism.
It isn’t about the team Durant left behind, as Pierce indicates. It’s about the team he joined. People aren’t mad that Durant left Oklahoma; they’re mad that he came to Oakland.
And the personal criticisms of Durant are just petty, and in the case of his ex-teammates, sad. Rise above, Westbrook & Co. Maybe focus on trying to prove that you didn’t need him for your team to be successful, like everyone else does after a break-up.