Well, this is awkward.
Kevin Durant is supposed to be the union representative for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Each team typically has a primary and an alternate player rep, and Durant is listed as the primary for his club on the NBAPA’s website.
In this time of intense labor negotiations and with a lockout almost certain to be upon us once the clock strikes midnight on July 1, one would think that all of the players, but especially those that are designated as union reps, would be up to speed on the negotiations.
That wasn’t the case with Durant on Wednesday, however, according to this report from the AP’s Jeff Latzke:
Durant said at his youth basketball camp Wednesday that he didn’t realize the collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day Thursday.
Despite being Oklahoma City’s union representative, Durant says he hasn’t been able to attend players association meetings because of other obligations this summer.
Now, there are no quotes attributed to Durant in the report, so it would be unfair to completely rip him for this. But it doesn’t look great for the union to have one of its reps, and one of its more high-profile ones at that, not have any idea when the CBA is set to expire. Which is why stars at Durant’s level typically don’t sign up for this obligation.
A quick check of the roster of primary and alternate player reps for every team shows only a few All-Star caliber players. Once you get past Paul Pierce, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Durant, you’re looking at the likes of Matt Carroll, Austin Daye, and Anthony Tolliver. Not exactly a who’s who of NBA talent, but there’s a reason for that: they don’t have the off-the-court commitments that the league’s superstars do, so they’re available to attend meetings and stay informed about the latest developments.
There’s no question that Durant, as the player rep for his team, should be paying more attention to the negotiations between the players and the owners, and should also be prepared to speak about the situation intelligently when the topic comes up. But at the same time, considering the amount of responsibility that comes with being one of the game’s biggest stars, and all of the offseason commitments that go along with it, being the Thunder’s union rep probably isn’t something that needs to be added to that list.