Has the Kevin Durant situation changed since I wrote the following article in August 2014? As we approach the impending summer of decision for the skills and heart of Kevin Durant, the most iconic professional sports figure in the history of the State of Oklahoma, I don’t think so.
by Fred Pahlke
Copyright Fred Pahlke 8-30, 2014
Will Kevin Durant’s humongous 10 year deal with Nike, worth anywhere from $250-325 million keep the wunderkind from bolting from the Oklahoma City Thunder in two years. Or will he take his game to another city to pursue a championship in a new location, molding a team, aka James? The signing of the contract nixes the possible move from Nike to Under Armor giving the Swoosh KD’s brand to the world and making the Thunder second in salary payments to him for the foreseeable future. Will Nike want KD in a bigger market in two years to push the brand on a larger scale than what he can accomplish at a small market team such as Oklahoma City? Speculation is yes, quite possibly, but decisions to be made in the months to come will have to take into account KD’s love of his current teammates and his loyalty to either Oklahoma, hometown Washington DC area, or other promising venues. What will Durant’s agent Jay-Z recommend and will he follow his advice? All these things come into play and the decision will become more intense as the next two seasons play out. From this writer’s perspective, living in the Oklahoma City market, and being around Kevin’s movements, activities, and statements, anything is possible. Durant’s first goal, he would tell you, as he has told the world, is to win an NBA title. Currently, he has that opportunity to do so where he is. Teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are players that give him as good a chance to win in OKC as any he will find elsewhere.
KD is the face of the Thunder organization. He loves the quiet of OKC. He can go to Bricktown and enjoy the evening without fanfare, eating at his own restaurant. Same with the shopping mall or the Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse. No public hassle. He can ride his bike in obscurity, take a short trip to Norman or Stillwater to watch a college game of his beloved Texas Longhorns, or walk into a NAIA gym and mingle with the small crowd and enjoy the game. Things he can do in OKC you can forget about it in say a New York City. KD, again, will tell you he loves the non-hustle and bustle of his adopted city. He loves the sold-out crowds of every game at the Peak. He loves the never a negative boo while playing there. Hell, he hasn’t heard one negative word from any Thunder fan since playing here. He has the support of not just basketball fans of OKC but every living soul in the state of Oklahoma. He IS the face of Oklahoma, the whole dang state. That would change if he leaves. KD would be the face of whatever he sold. His persona would be that of a LaBron James. That’s not all bad but why be someone else when you can be yourself, an original.
KD will have many things to consider if he takes foot to another city. That, right now, is not of his nature. Things can change in two years. If OKC wins a title, KD will be a Thunder until he can’t play. The Thunder would never cut him, just as LAL has honored Kobe. Once the face of OKC, always the face of OKC. Yes, the Thunder might not win it all and that changes the game. But the question has to be asked. Can he put together a better team somewhere else? Westbrook is good for three more years and if KD did bolt the greatest athlete in the Association becomes de facto #1, at least for a year. Yes, Russell could take his game home to LA which would be a stronger possibility if KD is gone in two. Yet, those two love each other, as KD loves all his teammates. Remember his MVP speech? Genuine and from the heart. Hell, with the money KD is going to make in the next ten years if he wanted to own an NBA franchise (Michael) he could get one in time. At least a part of one, a significant part. The stakes are enormous for his decision. It won’t be easy but in the long run it will be a matter of why KD is who he is. Money won’t be the final driving point. KD wants to win but he also wants to be significant. He is in OKC with a smile on his face. That is the driving point. Personal happiness along with satisfaction and respect is all KD desires. OKC and KD both get it.
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