By now we know Kevin Durant is sensitive.
He has rabbit ears. Everything seems to be a launching point for him to vomit up his feelings – from being around his new “family” in Oakland to the impact his mother has on his life. Everything matters to Kevin Durant. Relationships, basketball, commercials, fans, etc. It’s as if his whole life is a combination of the Dr. Phil show recorded on Oprah’s couch.
All of it well-documented, no doubt. And all of it has come out since Durant left Oklahoma City last July, which has manifested itself in the Thunder becoming borderline irrelevant and KD, himself, winning his first title as well as the Finals MVP.
But perhaps this sensitive side of Durant wouldn’t have become so exposed if, say, Durant had taken a more-predictable path. And easier road.
KD has been blasted from fans to media for “taking the easy way out,” and inserting himself in the middle of a team that was likely good enough to win without him.
But maybe the easier move would have been to stay.
Here in OKC, Durant was an untouchable. Roundly lauded, rarely criticized. The absolute easiest thing Durant could have done was to sit back, play alongside Russell Westbrook and be cheered for the rest of his career. It would have happened, even if he never won a title. And no one would have thought twice about it.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, the player who we now know to be extra-sensitive to criticism went to the one team in the NBA where he was going to get more of it than any other team in the league. Why? Well, it could be because Durant wanted to win a title, to alleviate anxiety from playing alongside Westbrook, or because he wanted a living room view of the Pacific Ocean. Who knows. What we do know is the kind of verbal abuse, ridiculous internet memes and Twitter bashing Durant did get could have been avoided. Durant was ripped by players and ex-players, commentators and others. The epicenter of the KD hate was here in Oklahoma City, but aftershocks were felt all over.
That’s not easy to take on. In fact, to improve his quality of life and his chances at winning an NBA title Durant had to leave behind an insulated, protective bubble. That has to be somewhat difficult for anyone, but for someone like Durant, it has to be excruciating.
Durant was so seemingly unhappy and unsatisfied he willingly took a job where he instantly went from hero to a sitting duck villain.
Perhaps the idea of a championship was so important to Durant that he was willing to go outside of his comfort zone, leave the only place he played as a pro, where he was sheltered and coddled.
And perhaps it’s easy for us to suggest it was a weak and non-competitive move. Maybe so. He went to the best team, and that’s a fair and valid point. But beyond basketball, in real life, this decision wasn’t the easy one. It was the hardest one imaginable.