kevin durant loyalty

I tried to write about any topic other than the obvious for this latest monthly (actually its been a few months since I last posted) but this unprecedented 2017 NBA free agency has dominated the sports news headlines all summer so here we are.

It’s like in the months since the Finals, subsequent NBA draft and summer league, media coverage of the league hasn’t disappeared or even slowed down like a typical summer NBA off-season. The popular Nike slogan “Basketball Never Stops” has proven to be more true this year more than in any other calendar year in NBA history. This “off-season” hasn’t been anything close to “off” and it has arguably been more action packed and appealing than the the 2016-17 regular season.

I don’t have to list you all the star players who have switched teams (even I can’t even keep count), but we all know the big ones:

Paul George, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Rose.

I can’t forget, Avery Bradley to the Pistons or Dangelo Russell traded to Brooklyn either (More on that later.), and now a new name probably the biggest player of those mentioned above can be added to the list.

Just when you thought the free agency madness was finally over, the NBA dropped another bomb on it’s unsuspecting fans. NO, it isn’t the elusive Melo trade we’ve been teased with for years, but something much bigger.

None other than Kyrie Irving is in the market for a new home and it ain’t in the “land”. Uncle Drew is taking his talents to ‘Beantown’ and who he got dealt for for is just as shocking as the trade it self. At the time of writing this -or basically reviving the post before actually publishing- (check the date), Kyire had been stuck in the middle of a nasty feud with Lebron, which all began with his demand to be traded, reportedly. Kyrie’s threat would ultimately earn him a oneway ticket to Boston in exchange for one of the most beloved Celtic’s in recent history since the BIG 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (maybe not so much Ray anymore). Needless to say, the news has shaken up the entire league.

The Cavs move even prompted the always outspoken Kevin Durant to chime in with his 2 cents on the big news in a recent podcast with Bill Simmons. In it the 2017 finals MVP stated that the “The NBA has no loyalty”. Look it up if you don’t believe me. You actually might find it hard to hear from one of the games biggest stars.

Personally, it’s a sad day in the league when both players and teams are no better than what you expect from “hoes” these days, word to Chris Breezy.

While I can relate to some of the lyrics in the above song….. I beg to differ with Durant’s sediments. He’s wrong. At least, I hope he’s wrong. And he’s the last one who should be talking though seeing he just got rewarded for NOT being loyal. Thats not a great message to be sent out to his fellow players and basketball fans is it? I guess this is just a casualtiy of the “new NBA” era we are in.

Back in the old NBA being extremely loyal to franchises was rewarded. Kobe just spent 20 season with the Lakers, his only team. He’s the personification of loyalty. He’s the “Purple and Gold” standard of what it means to be loyal in the NBA. And the feeling was mutual. The team basically sacrificed their entire 2015-2016 season and accepted losing to give a washed up Kobe a proper send off. And Kobe/Laker fans, while they might be the most delusional I’ve ever come across, but they’re hands down the most loyal in the game.

Besides the Black Mamba, theres also current players Dirk who is nearing his own 20th season still with the Mavs prove loyalty is alive in the NBA. And there’s also Lebron, Dwayne Wade and recently retired Paul Pierce who are still considered the face of the respective franchises they were originally drafted to even if they left and in Lebron’s left and came back again. And if you want a perfect example of loyalty in the NBA right now, look no further than Carmelo and the Knicks. It’s that kind of dysfunctional loyalty a man might have to a girlfriend or wife he can’t stand, but still stays loyal to nonetheless. He’s stuck with the Knicks even after all the hard times over the years and he hasn’t jumped ship, despite all his peers forming super teams around him.

But in all seriousness, my point is, loyalty isn’t something that should be taken lightly or thrown under the bus in a podcast. It’s a good quality to value in life and until last week I thought the same for professional basketball.

Maybe the game just reflects the times. Is loyalty “old fashioned”? Is it “uncool”. I don’t think so. But for Durant to dismiss it like it’s a casualty of the new generation of NBA basketball isn’t cool.

Granted, it makes sense coming from a guy most fans out side of the BAY Area consider to be a “snake”. And I hate that it’s coming from his mouth as much as the next (former) KD fan still angry he left OKC but he’s telling the truth. The comment just happens to be justifying his actions, his championship and everything thats going on in the NBA right now.

If anything can be taken from Durant’s comments, it’s that the NBA is going through a major transformation, not just on the court but how players view the game. I can’t imagine star players saying anything like that 5-10 years ago, not to mention in the 90’s. But it’s now 2017 and a different league with a new generation players. If loyalty amongst them, their franchises, and even fans is a thing of the past then so be it. But if you look back at older players; great ones like Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan they valued being loyal to the teams and, more importantly, fan base that drafted them.

Jordan himself recently said that he regretted “putting on another uniform” other than the Chicago Bulls. I give MJ a pass for his time in Washington, but I know some die hard Jordan fans who don’t acknowledge the “Wizard years” not because he wasn’t seen as loyal to Chicago but because it tainted his legacy. – Not much different from the way Durants legacy will be seen no matter how many titles he wins in Goldenstate.

Jordan retuning to the NBA and playing for a struggling Wizards team years after finishing his Bulls career with a storybook type ending you only see in movies was a bad move in hindsight, but at the time I’m sure back then even he thought it was a good idea. It had to be one of the biggest stories in sports at the time. Jordan fans, Wizards fans and the league all loved it.

So it brings me to wonder if in todays NBA the entertainment factor will always take precedent while more important things like integrity are an after thought. To what extend will loyalty be compromised? And at what cost? Should we be expecting a league that’s more WWE in 2017-18 and less authentic.

Maybe I’m expecting too much from the NBA as this new generation of players are clearly driven by rings. Meanwhile the teams, are just out for a check. Even so when the buzzer sounds, the game is over. It’s just “a game” after all? Better yet, it’s a business. Us fans will just continue to sit down and enjoy the show. Loyal or not, I’m gonna watch the NBA regardless. And judging by the 2017-18 season schedule that just released, this new “un-loyal” NBA will be one of the most entertaining in years.

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