KD and the Original Sin

Kevin Durant wants to convince fans of something and he cannot. But he still tries so that says something about his perseverance or his neediness.

Durant wants fans to not be hypocrites. They [fans] can leave their job if they want to, when they want to, so why can’t he? Durant is missing the middle part of his argument. Teams are built and by the time they reach championship level a lot of sweat equity has taken place. It is time consuming and everyone has to go through all the bruises and scars and touching of the wound before a title is celebrated. History demands you endure the marathon.

But Durant didn’t do the 26 mile marathon. He did about a 4 mile sprint. He cut the line. That’s why fans are still salty despite his accomplishments.

This is how NBA title building is usually done:

The Warriors won a NBA title in Steph Curry’s sixth NBA year after they traded Monta Ellis, drafted Klay and Dryamond, signed Iguodala as a free agent, lost to the Clippers in the first round in a game 7, changed coaches.

The Cavaliers didn’t win a title until after LeBron returned home and then traded for J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver and changed coaches.

The Heat had to blow up their team and fire sale it to create the cap space for three contracts and it took humility before they won.

The Mavs didn’t win when they had the league’s best record and they didn’t win when they had a 2-0 lead on the Miami Heat and it wasn’t until they brought Jason Kidd back that they won.

The Lakers had to steal Pau Gasol out of Memphis and trade Brian Cook for Trevor Ariza and develop Andrew Bynum before they won titles number 4 and 5 in the Kobe era.

The Celtics blew it all up and traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and pulled Paul Pierce off of the trade wire before ending their long title drought.

The point is championships are built by front office moves over time. The reason there is so much ecstasy from the front office on down after a title is because it takes a lot of work to get the team to the point of brilliance. Everyone paid their dues.

In the Warriors case, Steph had brutal ankle injuries. Draymond sat on the bench. Iguodala was traded from the Sixers where he was an All-Star and then sent to Denver and now was 30 years old. Steve Kerr was on TNT. Shaun Livingston was basketball dead after that knee injury and his screams that were blood curdling. Everyone had a story of hardship. Everyone.

But Kevin Durant walks in after all the growing pains and hard luck stories and pain and misery. He reaps the benefit of what had been built. Durant didn’t build anything. He took advantage of what was there. He is brilliant so it was always going to work, the way he fit his game in with everyone else and yet Durant doesn’t set screens and play off ball like the Warriors do. Because. He wasn’t there from jump. It wasn’t his gig.

Durant needs fans to accept him, that is his first mistake. No one loves everybody. His second foray into fallacious thinking is to hold close to the chest that we operate on a meritocracy. We don’t. Not even in sports.

The emotional pull of professional sports, all sports really, is fairness. Equality. What doesn’t exist in the modern world with all of its tiers and biases is true in competitive sports. But what is fair in sports is one thing: the best team wins. That’s it. What will never be fair is how individual players are judged against their peers and by fans, an emotional denouement. That subtlety Durant hasn’t accepted.

He joined a team that was in the NBA Finals two straight years. He joined a champion. He joined a team that didn’t need him. There was no Durant hole on the Warriors. He was icing on the cake. He made them superlative and historical and unbeatable. But they won without him. They set records for wins without him. To fans, that looks like he gamed the system. He didn’t want in on the building. He wanted to move in the house once it had been standing a few years and was earthquake proof.

That he cheated the system says something about Durant the human. It is his original sin. Fans will never let it go. Never. Because sports is transactional.

Earlier this month when LeBron James joined the young Lakers, a team in need of more building, it made what Durant did even softer. Like Durant was tired of the hard work.  It doesn’t matter how many Twitter fights he gets into. He can’t unring the bell.

He joined the Warriors. He left his okay wife for the rich one who could get him in a door that had been previously shut. It was his prerogative to do so and he made the most out of it. He deserves everything he has earned. But he cuddled up to privilege. He was born on third base and acts like he hit a triple.