By Ken Reed
NBA star Kevin Durant is getting blistered in both the press and Twitterverse for choosing to switch employers while a free agent. Durant said his decision was based on what he thought was a better work environment and a city that he feels will help him grow as a player and as a person.
Durant never demanded a trade while under contract. He simply explored his options when he became a free agent. Nevertheless, a lot of people are mad at him for his decision.
“We live in this superhero comic book world where either you’re a villain or you’re a superhero if you’re in this position, and I know that,” said Durant.
“And I know I haven’t changed as a person. I don’t treat people any differently because I made the decision to play basketball in another city. I try to look at this as a game. It’s not life or death. We play basketball for a living. We get to take care of our families. I want to enjoy every day. That’s all it is.”
Durant didn’t switch employers for more money. In fact, he turned down more money from the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for the Golden State Warriors because he loved the camaraderie and chemistry he saw within the Warriors locker room and front office. As Sam Amick wrote in USA Today, Durant was attracted to Golden State because the Warriors “played with joy. They played with a genuine love for one another. On most nights, they had fun. And he wanted that.”
Perhaps some of the reason fans and reporters are angry with Durant is that they don’t like today’s players having so much power to direct their futures.
“They want players to be seen and not heard: chess pieces in a game of live-action fantasy sports, moved by powerful men in board rooms who are armed only with their superior intellect and self-serving blather about “the process,” wrote sports and culture writer Dave Zirin.
“They can’t stand that maybe the best general managers are now the young black stars taking full ownership of their own legacies. They can’t stand that this is a player’s league … Going to the best possible workplace to achieve the greatest success would be a no-brainer in any other profession.”
It should be in professional sports as well.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.