Kevin Durant has said a lot of things this summer. The current Brooklyn Nets superstar said in a recent Wall Street Journal story that he no longer feels a connection to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the reasons why he decided to leave the Golden State Warriors.
Included in Durant’s recent comments were those decrying the state of a basketball player’s life, saying that sometimes he, “hate(s) the circus of the NBA.”
Folks responded strongly to Durant’s comments, with many understanding the mental strain an outsized, constant media attention would put on any person.
Then again, others felt as though players had to accept that attention in exchange for the hefty salaries and sponsorship deals they gain because of it.
You can put Scottie Pippen in that second category, by the way.
Speaking on ESPN’s “The Jump”, Pippen said that Durant ultimately had to have the right perspective.
I understand what Kevin is saying, but I also want to let him know that this is a part of our business. This is why he’s making all that money. Because, we’ve been able to globalize the game through our players. Not just what they do on a basketball court, but, you know — using digital stuff of them talking, travelling abroad, to help promote our game. It’s part of our package to help promote our game, because that helps our salaries grow. So I don’t get what he’s saying, especially with a player that’s been in the league as long as he has.
That’s a pretty reasonable expectation. Every person is allowed to have their mental headspace in balance, but the undeniable context of professional sports is of imbalance.
If he’s going to cash the big checks, he’s going to have to “play the game” as it were, even if that means not playing the actual game. And of course, he’s welcome to step away. People — musicians, sports stars, actors — have decided to simply call it a day after making a certain amount. It’s other factors that keep Durant in a uniform: he certainly doesn’t need any more money.
But this is largely a thought exercise. There’s no sense admonishing Durant in any real way, and we can’t live inside his head. He’s welcome to his experience, and at the very least Durant appears like he’s trying to deal with that every day. He’s allowed to be sick of the “circus” from time-to-time.