Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors earned him plenty of scorn. So, how did he deal with it?
In an interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical, Durant was asked if he called LeBron James for advice on how to handle the backlash. LeBron would probably have some insight on the matter, having faced similar heat in 2010 after “The Decision.”
Durant said that he didn’t speak to LeBron, or anyone else.
“I’m not going to waste LeBron’s time, or anybody else’s time away from what they’ve got going on to ask them about some basketball, whatever goes on in this NBA bubble”
But he wasn’t done. Durant also offered insight as to how he copes with the heat.
“It’s really not that important,” Durant told Lee. “Something I just experienced day by day. I knew the backlash was coming. I knew how many people would ‘hate’ me – put that in quotation marks! People would ‘hate’ me for … I don’t even know. People that would be upset for no reason. Because I’m sure none of this affected their life in any way. I understood that this was like a fantasy – a real-world fantasy. It’s real for me, but it’s like a game for everybody else.”
That’s certainly a healthy attitude.
Durant may be being too dismissive towards a specific group of people — Oklahoma City Thunder fans. Granted, his decision didn’t impact whether any fan lived or died, nor did it cause fans to lose their jobs. From that respect, he’s absolutely right.
But being a fan of a team is a big part of someone’s life. It’s especially true in a market that has only one pro team. Fandom being a big part of someone’s life isn’t always rational. But that irrationality helps make athletes millions of dollars.
With that said, a fair amount of the backlash he received was from people who are not Thunder fans. These are people who just look for things to criticize. Had Durant stayed in Oklahoma City, many of these people would have been critical of him for just taking the big money deal and not caring enough about winning a ring.
Finding away to distance himself from those people was a wise, necessary move.