So far, in what can hardly be considered the offseason, NBA news has consisted ostensibly of talk about business, economics and money. As a fan of the league, one thing that you have to accept is that the NBA is a business; your team may make a lop-sided trade or two for economic reasons, or let a key player go during free agency, but at the end of the day, despite how the business side of the game affects the basketball side, the basketball side of the game will always provide enough excitement and emotion to make you overlook what concessions may fall at the hands of the business side.
Well, that is normally the case, until the collective bargaining agreement expires and greed rears its ugly head; then all we are left with is anger and resentment and no basketball with which to wash those bitter pills down.
On the other hand, the bitterness and resentment may be more preferable than the possible alternative of apathy that will undoubtedly set in once fans start replacing the NBA with other alternatives. This is the reason why events such as otherwise meaningless exhibition games that have taken place during the lockout have become so important to writers and fans alike.
The plethora of summer league exhibition games this summer have largely been glorified pickup games; games in which some players show up to play, and some players are just happy to be there—Michael Beasley anyone?—but most importantly, these games have given fans the chance to catch a glimpse of NBA talent that we are so desperately starved for. But this isn’t about that, nor is it about the players that just show up for some run, this is about the ones that give a crap, and remind us why we love this game; and no athlete has exemplified these traits more than Kevin Durant.
Fans and media members alike all owe Durant some degree of gratitude for showing us what it’s like to see an NBA superstar at his best during a time where such a thing is hard to find. Durant has been worth the price of admission every time he has stepped on the court for; this includes a 44 point performance in the first Goodman-Drew league showdown, 50 point outing in the second match-up, 48 points at Chris Paul’s charity All-Star game and an impressive 66 points at Rucker Park; the latter performance earned him the cover of Bounce Magazine.
Durant has used these exhibitions games to make certain that everyone around the league—players and fans alike—know that he is the most dynamic and capable scorer in the NBA. But, perhaps more importantly, he has shown the fans his competitive steak, and his work ethic; something that cannot be seen in the current labor negotiations.
KD has reminded us what it is that we will wait for during the lockout, and what it is that makes us care about the league as much as we do. KD has reminded us why we are so angry that the league can’t get a deal done, and reminded us why we will still watch, no matter how many games ultimately get cancelled. At the end of the day Kevin Durant personifies everything a fan wants in a professional athlete, and everything we want to see on the court.
For me, Kevin Durant has reminded me why I love this game so much at a time in which I can occasionally feel my faith in the league wavering. And that, in my opinion is truly heroic.
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