Durant Taking Flak for NBA Lockout
It’s not easy being Kevin Durant, at least not on a Monday when the NBPA ceased existing and labor negotiations with the NBA went up in smoke.
“Man I probably blocked 60 people in two days,” said Durant on Twitter (edited slightly for clarity), “Ignorant people who have no clue what’s going on.”
Kevin is the poster-child for what’s right about the NBA.
He’s a gracious star, happy to play in a small market. He professed early that he wanted to extend his stay in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, a team he has taken from the lottery to the Western Conference Finals in four short years.
“Us going to the [WCF] was big for us. We learned a lot about ourselves,” said the lanky forward. “Hopefully if we start the season we can get back to trying to gel and build our chemistry more and more.”
There’s something genuine about Durant that just resonates with the public.
How many NBA players (or stars/celebrities in general) will show up and participate in a pickup flag-football game with a fan-follower on Twitter?
Now he’s looking to play overseas while basketball waits for an uncertain resolution at home.
Prior to Monday’s (potentially) cataclysmic outcome, Durant spoke about the lockout to HOOPSWORLD.
“I’m a positive guy. So I do expect there to be a season but we want a fair deal, I can say that,” said Durant. “Hopefully we get one.”
Not yet, unfortunately for everyone involved including the even greater number of non-millionaires involved in ancillary businesses.
“I’m disappointed of course but you knew it was coming,” said Durant of the divisive lockout. “I’m also disappointed in how [the NBA is] trying to turn the fans against us.”
“I know we get paid handsomely but we deserve to fight for something that’s right,” said Kevin with words that foreshadowed what was to come.
The players believed if they came down to Commissioner David Stern’s number on the Basketball Related Income (BRI) split, they payoff would be a favorable system.
“We can’t take 50/50 and a bad system,” said Durant.
For Kevin, missing a season was “always an option,” and that may very well be the path the sides have taken in a high-stakes game of chicken.
Even with the union disclaiming, resolution can still be reached in time for a 50-60 game season. If the players had accepted the owners’ deal on Monday, basketball would have started back up on December 15th for a 72-game schedule.
There’s no telling but the 1999 lockout ended on January 20th, so arguably there’s still over two months of wiggle room. That’s plenty of time for both sides to generate a massive amount of legal fees before finally coming to conclusions they should have reached by now.
Or they don’t and this thing goes on indefinitely.
Regardless there’s already a backlash the league is going to have to deal with.
“The majority of the people are just like, ‘Shut up, you get paid. Go play.’ That’s kind of frustrating to me,” said Durant. “People are saying, ‘You get paid too much,’ and ‘You don’t save lives so why should you get paid this amount of money?’”
“Sometimes it’s kind of frustrating to see on Twitter but it is what it is,” continued Kevin. “I know how hard I’ve worked for 18+ years to get to where I’ve gotten to. If it was easy, everybody would do it. So that’s what I tell people. It takes skill. It’s not just guys being tall to make it to the NBA.”
Compensation for athletes, actors, musicians and the like is disproportionately high when compared to other vital industries like teaching and protecting (police, fire, etc.) but that’s a function of today’s society.
Durant is certainly not at fault for what he gets paid. Based on precedent, he and the players are fighting for rights (within the NBA business model) they believe they deserve.
“We feel that they’re trying to strong-arm us and back us into a corner just to accept the deal,” said Durant. “Of course they’re going to bluff and show the fans, try to put the fans against us like they’re the good guys and we’re the bad guys.”
“I think getting what you deserve and fighting for something you believe is right is something all the players really care about,” continued Kevin. “Of course we enjoy the fans, we like the fans that come and support us. They’re the reason why we’re playing this game, the reason why continue to play this game but at some point you have to fight for what’s right and we can’t get bullied.”
The players are the product in the NBA. It’s the talent that brings in over $4 billion of BRI annually.
“As a player, we generate so much money into this NBA, billions of dollars, we’re just trying to get what we deserve,” said Durant.
Still, the owners do shell out a sizable outlay of funds to make each season happen. Is it wrong that they’re fighting to at least break even or possibly turn a small profit?
At what point does right and wrong become distant seconds to compromise?
The entity formerly known as the NBPA made a gutsy move on Monday. It remains to be seen whether or not it will pay off but this lockout is headed down a difficult path with uncertainty for both sides.
The only thing clear is that games have been cancelled and more are to come.
That’s money that neither side is going to be able to recoup . . . so it better be worth it.