“My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”
DARK KNIGHT FEELING, DIE OR BE A HERO OR LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE YOURSELF BECOME A VILLAIN
Being a villain in the court of public opinion is a complicated subject to tackle. Having the ability to cut through the emotion and self-defined interpretations of what a “true champion” is or an “alpha male” requires an ability to shut out and shut up doubters. Let’s get right to it; there is a large section of basketball fans that have turned on Kevin Durant. Not groundbreaking. I’ve written about this. Everyone has written about this. I’ve poked holes in ESPN’s Royce Young piece on Kevin’s departure, I’ve laughed at Stephen A. Smith’s ability to rationalize LeBron’s 2010 move to Miami, to build a “super team,” but condemn Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State. I don’t care to discuss the pros and cons of the move anymore; it has happened, not let’s move on and envision what we can expect from Kevin.
Being the “Bad Guy” can be an advantageous position. You don’t have to win over the court of public opinion. The fans can be irrational. You can focus on your game, and know that your inevitable success will only piss them off. LeBron tried his hand at being The Heel (professional wrestling term for a villain), but self-admittedly wasn’t cut out for that role. The role of villain wore The King down, and when his team came up short against Dallas, he lived with the weight of being a people pleaser. One who had let not only the people down, but his team as well. LeBron couldn’t stop focusing on the boos, the jeers, the burning Cavs jerseys. He’s human. All of these guys are. However, I see something different in Kevin Durant. Human, yes, but not scared to tell the media and detractors to “F**k Off!”
Oklahoma, and only Oklahoma, watched the movie Thunderstruck. The basketball world fawned over KD as he quietly- yes, quietly considering the circumstances- announced his contract extension with the OKC Thunder via Twitter, the same day James announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach.” The fans connected with “The Quiet Superstar,” that didn’t possess any visible tattoos, hugged his mom after every home game and defended Russell Westbrook’s occasional ball dominance. KD’s MVP speech comes second only to my Father In Law’s speech at my wedding. So you get the picture. Or do you? I haven’t talked about his on-court accomplishments, which are numerous, but as an outsider, one must wonder, “Why the hell is this guy so hated now??”
That’s it. Durant abandoned the small market team, for the two-time defending Western Conference Champions. The team that has another babyface (the pro-wrestling term for good guy), in Steph Curry, fellow second generation player Klay Thompson, and Dennis Rodman 2.0(in a good way) Draymond Green. The team coached by the laid back, wise-cracking, championship coach and player, Steve Kerr. The team that won the championship in 2015 won 73 regular season games (a new NBA record and came back from a 1-3 deficit against the KD-led OKC Thunder…. Only to lose the championship to James’ Cavaliers after being up, ironically, 3-1. Then something happened.
In the midst of Golden State’s downward spiral in the NBA Finals, Draymond got suspended for a game, after taking a swipe at King James’ banana and berries.? Klay Thompson’s smack talk in the media would wake up the Cavs. Steph Curry would be ejected from a game, and throw his mouthpiece into the stands, hitting a fan. Uncharacteristic, but given the stakes, you see how on such a large stage this unraveling would turn off the general public. The Golden State Warriors became the Villain before or very eyes this past June. Fitting.
MORAL VICTORIES IS FOR MINOR LEAGUE COACHES, AND ‘YE ALREADY TOLD YOU WE MAJOR YOU COCKROACHES
What’s most significant about greatness? Some would say it’s the ability to repeatedly rise to the occasion, exceed the expectations of others and deliver in high-pressure situations. Those are components, attributes of those who strive to be great. I believe that greatness isn’t who you are, it’s what you do. When we call someone great, we are speaking not to their character, but their accomplishments. Their body of work. Steph Curry is already great. Kevin Durant is already great. Detractors can’t take that from them, nor can the jeers or boos diminish what they have yet to accomplish together. Another component of greatness is the ability to be unwavering in your focus while pursuing your goal. So when Kevin Durant, through his play or his words, flips off the naysayers, he isn’t a villain, he’s just too damn busy.
I WENT FROM THE FAVORITE TO THE MOST HATED, OR WOULD YOU RATHER BE UNDERPAID OR OVERRATED…
By Fred Johnson
Lyrics from “So Appalled” by Kanye West feat. Swizz Beats, RZA, JAY-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi the Prynce