The Class and the Classless

The Class and ClasslessGeneral Manager from the Oklahoma City Thunder gave his opinion on how Thunder Fans should feel about Kevin Durant leaving to the Golden State Warriors from Scott Davis at Business Insider:

How should they feel about him? You know, listen, I’m not going to tell people how to feel or not to judge or what have you. I just think that what he represented for the city was something larger than basketball. I think that he arrived at a time where the city was also on an upward trajectory, a 20-year-old young man in an aspirational city. People kind of snicker and kind of sneer when we talk about that kind of stuff, but my guess is you’re probably not doing that right now. “You know, we talk and you guys would hear me say, this connection to this community, and the typing would stop and the eyes would roll. But I was saying that truthfully and authentically because I know how this business works, and I know that these days are possible. And we need to recognize what exactly took place here over the last eight years and recognize it and celebrate it. “They should feel thankful, grateful. They should not – I can’t tell them not to be disappointed, but the one thing I would also say is the city should be incredibly proud of what they’ve helped create for the Thunder. It’s not possible without that. They need to carry that on. They need to carry on the spirit and the fight and the grit, because that was here before the Thunder. That was here before the Thunder, that spirit, that ability to continue to press forward. That’s in the water here. “I think all of us, Kevin included, was a beneficiary of that approach and what’s in Oklahoma. So my message would be, carry on. Carry on and continue to be proud of what it is that you represent. It’s much bigger than the Thunder.”

Contrast that response to how owner, Dan Gilbert, responded when LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010.

James J. Parziale for the NY Daily News:

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert isn’t feeling bittersweet about LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat.

He’s just bitter.

James’ migration from his hometown Cavs to South Beach to join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Pat Riley and Miami Heat inspired scathing words from the man who used to sign his pay checks.

In a statement released on the Cavaliers website, Gilbert ripped James in an open letter addressed to the team’s fans.

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE,” Gilbert wrote.

He went on to say James’ actions were a “cowardly betrayal” and that the Cavaliers would work harder than ever for the fans of Cleveland. But LeBron remained the focus of Gilbert’s ire.

“Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works,” Gilbert wrote. “This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown ‘chosen one’ sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”

Stark contrast between class and classless. The Thunder will be much better off without Durant, than the Cavaliers were without LeBron.

Durant’s Departure

Royce Young writing for ESPN.com:

He was going to stay. He was going to plant his flag. He was going to finish what
he started. Anyone who was around the team saw Donovan’s hiring as the start
of a new era, a fresh start and the first step in retaining their franchise player.
Durant felt it, too.

What changed?

…But there was always concern that Durant would be persuaded — that outside forces would sway him. Those close to him talk about how he’s impressionable and impulsive, and the moment Durant agreed to meetings in the Hamptons, his future hung in the balance. In reality, he had one foot out the door.

…He said his decision would come down to “who I’m going to be playing with and the people I’m going to be around every single day.” Most assumed that meant he’d choose the people he’d known the past nine years. Westbrook. Collison.  Presti. Weaver.

Instead it was Curry, Thompson and Green.

Durant didn’t want to be the leader anymore. The Warriors’ “Strength In Numbers” mantra wasn’t just a catchphrase. It was what he wanted.

This piece gives great insight on what went into Kevin Durant’s decision. It reads that Kevin Durant’s inner circle wanted him to go.

Also, Durant wasn’t enjoying the Thunder’s culture.  Colin Cowherd on his podcast on Tuesday explained that Steph Curry texted Kevin Durant and told him that he didn’t care about who was the alpha, but that he just wanted to win. It seemed to matter to Westbrook. He preferred the culture of the Warriors. In Oklahoma City it was a grind, where people people insisted on assigning credit. In Golden State it appeared to be a party, where the host was irrelevant, he wanted in on the party.

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