Tuesday, March 1, 2011

thunder up!

Every time I write about Kevin Durant, I recall the stupidest thing I ever wrote. No, I won't tell you what it is, but, yes, it's still up. So, yeah, this has to be taken with a huge chunk of salt. I've been wrong about KD before and I'll be wrong again. But, for what it's worth...I think there's something to be said here.

Bill Simmons quotes Kenny Smith as musing about the state of the National Basketball League and saying, "If [a small-market team] builds the right pieces around the right guy, he will stay. Period. Duncan stayed in San Antonio because it built the right team around him. Stockton and Malone stayed in Utah because they had each other. Durant will stay in Oklahoma City because of Westbrook and everyone else."

Kevin Durant is an interesting player. When he was drafted, the two biggest lines of thinking were that it might have been a mistake for the Portland Trailblazers to take Greg Oden over him (that one might be close to proven by now) and that he could only bench press 185 pounds. However, now, he's a proven commodity. Despite the Oklahoma City Thunder not doing as well this year as prognosticators said they could or would, no one would deny that Durant is an All-Star, nor that he's one of the most up and coming players in the league.

Oklahoma City seems to be the perfect place for him, too. He's encouraged the nickname of Thunder U. for the team, harkening back to his college days. He's joined on the court by some of the youngest stars the league didn't know it had to offer. And he interacts with his fans and the online community) in the best way a manager could ask for.

But, as the NBA trade deadline passed, and the Thunder made significant moves, it seemed as though this was a day worth noting. This is the beginning of the end. This is the day we will look back on, in future times, and we will realize: Kevin Durant saw that the NBA is a business. He pretended, and the Thunder enabled him to pretend, that it was fun, that he nad his buddies could hang out together forever. That they would be able to maintain this atmosphere, this environment, forever. That the fans would come all in blue and make it, in his words, a college-like environment.

But this was the day when that all changed. His own words prove it. First he termed it a hard day and just three hours later, he was claiming how deathly quiet the team bus was. These are the kinds of ways Kevin Durant wears his heart on his sleeve.

Years from now, when we look back, we'll see a change in Durant from this day forward. I believe this.


There is one thing that can stop this. If Kendrick Perkins plays out of his mind and the Thunder go on a tear, and they make the Western Conference Finals, and they make it to the NBA Finals, and maybe, maybe, maybe, if they win - that will change things. Winning makes everything okay. Everything. Look at the list that Simmons compiled. Duncan: 4 championships (and maybe counting). Stockton and Malone: continually pushing to the border of winning it all. Winning is all that matters.

If the Thunder start to kill, Durant will stay. If not, ten years from now, we'll look back and see that, however brilliant Sam Presti is, he made a mistake in trading away Kevin Durant's friends, in robbing him of his belief that things could be the way he thought they were.

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