Makes a decision to change teams.
Claims to be sleepless, days after making the decision.
Responds to critics on social media.
Comes out with shoe detailing many negative insults hurled at him.
Continues responding to critics by using several ghosts accounts.
Handles criticism by overeating junk food.
This is the new age athlete. This is not Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Reggie Miller. Gone are the days of newspaper articles slamming players, with the only retaliation from the players being to address the reporter personally. The previous era of players did not have to worry about branding, social media, and approval from their peers. Maybe it’s a millennial thing. Maybe it is the fact that money is making these athletes more vulnerable and emotional.
I simply see it as being soft.
The actions of Kevin Durant over the past year further proves that he is emotionally fragile. I’ve speculated that the reason Durant decided to leave Oklahoma City is that he did not want to play for coach Billy Donovan. This was evident to anyone that follows the NBA. We all could see that he was close to Russell Westbrook. He did so many positive things for the city and even opened a signature restaurant in Oklahoma City. The issue with Durant is with the move to Oakland he exposed himself emotionally. He went from superstar on an underwhelming team to bandwagon star looking for an easy championship. Once the big brother and protector of Westbrook he now is in a culture with players that have their own agendas; far more than just dealing with Westbrook.
The paradigm has shifted from him being protective of Westbrook, to now being on his own and needing a shield of his own. In Oklahoma City, he spent so much time deflecting criticism from Westbrook that he never had time to check his critics and his own demons. Maybe there was value in protecting Westbrook. In doing so, he bought more time from those expecting him to lead his team to a championship. He has never faced the criticism of LeBron James despite losing one championship to James and failing to capitalize on a 3-1 lead against his current team.
Durant used several Twitter accounts to defend himself. The effort to make several accounts, and post from them consistently, is childish. I also question his intelligence. Did he not think that someone would find this out? The same amount of effort he took to make the account, with all the obligations he has, he did not stop to think what some person with more time can figure out about him?
It’s not only Durant that suffers from this soft mentality. Dwight Howard recently stated how he feels he’s misunderstood and what he has had to endure as a player. Once one of the more marketable players in the NBA, Howard, is now a running joke among his peers and has changed teams three times in five years. Other players have displayed behavior that is soft as well. I can’t say definitively if it’s just the new era of players or if social media has changed how players conduct themselves. It is a slippery slope. Most of these players NEED social media to promote their brand and increase their revenue.
Most companies have to employ people primarily to run their social media accounts. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is not going to run the team’s social media account. The NFL Commissioner has not taken over the NFL Twitter account. If the players view themselves as CEOs of their brand opposed to merely players then I think that they would have less issue with social media. There is the desire to communicate with fans but when it becomes a detriment to what the athlete is trying to build, that is a problem.
Luckily for Durant, he is young enough to learn from his mistakes. I believe this may be his last season with the Golden State Warriors. At some point, one of their core four players will have to leave. This may be Durant’s LeBron/Miami experiment. He may have to move on sooner than later. Unfortunately, due to his posts, he can’t return to his original team. Durant should look no further than Dwight Howard as a cautionary tale of what not to do. I believe Durant is still respected by his peers but he is also a few years younger than Howard. This is the time to mature and define what he wants in the league. Calling out critics and former teammates is a loser move and no championship will ever erase that mentality.
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