NBA’s Tin Man
By Lorenzo Gordon
Let’s say you have unlimited points to build a prototype MyPlayer in 2k to terrorize all opposing coaches and players.
You start with size. Near 7-feet tall, with a 7’5 wingspan. Then you give him a high basketball IQ, amazing handles, and make him absolutely lights out shooting the rock. With his height and length, he has the ability to finish strong at the rim. Oh, by the way, he can play solid defense in both man and weak-side help situations. What more features could you ask for? In the game, he has no weakness and is quite possibly unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
As I’m sure you’ve picked up on, this player exists in real life and his name is Kevin Durant.
We all know of Durant and his litany of accolades – NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Four-time scoring champion, including three straight, and the youngest ever to lead the league in scoring at 21 years young. A six-time All-NBA selection, seven-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. It’s something that you could expect from someone built like an NBA 2K MyPlayer.
However, one thing not mentioned is NBA champion. How is that possible that in nine years, a player with all the talent and physical features most players can only dream of, hasn’t won a championship yet?
He had an opportunity in 2011 before blowing a 15-point lead in Game 4 against Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. He had an opportunity making the 2012 NBA Finals before losing 4-1 to the Miami Heat. But most importantly, he had an opportunity just this past postseason, putting the Thunder up 3-1 against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
We all know how that ended. Durant shot 10-31 in a pivotal Game 6, and the Warriors came back to win the series.
One rating that isn’t present in 2k is heart. And just like my created player, Kevin Durant, today’s NBA equivalent of the Tin Man, lacks that attribute in real life.
With today’s free agency rules and setup, I’m all for a player doing what they want and what’s best for them. A General Manager can cut or trade you in a heartbeat — you don’t owe them anything. It’s a business in that regard. I’m not knocking Durant for leaving. It’s the fact that he left his team and went to the 73- win, team that just came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals sending Durant home for the off-season.
Why should it matter what team he joins?
Because he’s not a role player. He’s not a bench warmer. He’s supposed to be the guy to lead his team to the promised land. With his skill-set, he should never have to succumb to another team’s star-studded roster, historic success, and especially one that just eliminated him from the playoffs.
A common theme of defense in regards to Kevin Durant ditching OKC is, “LeBron did it.”
First off, if anything it would be the 2008 Celtics, but those moves were made via trade, not free agency. And secondly, LeBron never did what Durant is. James, Wade, and Bosh all joined up, all from separate teams. Not to mention the Heat didn’t even make the playoffs the year before, let alone come back from a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals and knock him out of the playoffs.
In order to have any legitimate credibility with that statement, LeBron would have had to join the Celtics after his first Cleveland stint, or the Spurs after his Miami run. Can you imagine how badly Lebron would have got grilled by everyone had he left for Boston or San Antonio?
Can you imagine Michael Jordan joining the Pistons? Bird joining Magic? Reggie Miller or Karl Malone trying to be a Bull? Of course not.
Durant joining a team coming off a 73-9 season and a suspension and injury affected Game 7 loss in the finals screams easy way out. I don’t fault him for wanting to win a championship. But unfortunately when you’re the cream of the crop you’re held to a higher standard. By jumping ship to join a team that made it to back-to-back finals and already won a championship, is it really going to help validate his already stellar career?
Not only has this decision changed a lot of people’s opinion of him he’s also making an enemy of his biggest supporter, the media.
Sorry Wanda Durant, the media is the real MVP. They’ve coddled Durant for nearly his entire career. The media has always had Kevin Durant’s back. He’s even attacked them personally and they still cling to him.
Why? Durant is quoted as saying, “To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to, so I really don’t care. Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write.”
If anything he should be thanking them for keeping his real personality hidden and mediocre playoff record from us. With all the skills that he has and everything that he can do, he’s not a winner and he doesn’t have a heart of a champion.
He’s the Tin Man.
He didn’t win in college either, where individuals can have the biggest impact on a game. He let his Texas team down and got blown out of the tournament in the second round to a Swaggy P lead USC team. Yes Swaggy P, the same guy riding the bench on one of the worst teams in the league. But the media had his back. It wasn’t his fault they got blown out, they claimed it was his teammates’ fault.
In the NBA things still haven’t changed.
At first it was supposed to be James Harden’s playoff performance was the reason they didn’t win a championship. The Thunder then traded Harden to the Rockets for a parlay of draft picks. Then, it became Russell Westbrook who often took the heat for OKC and Durant’s failures. But when Russ plays well and they lose, the media blames coaching.
They never blame Kevin Durant. They always point the finger at other people instead of him. It’s a major theme of his career. After joining the Warriors, he’s put his protector – the media — and himself, in an awful spot. I will be interesting to see how his character unfolds as the season continues. Who is to blame if the Warriors struggle during the regular season or they don’t win the championship this year?
Will Kevin Durant Feel Validated?
If the Warriors win, how satisfying will this be to Kevin Durant? He’s jumping on a nice little paved yellow brick road laid out by the Warriors with all the obstacles fixed and taken care of. He hopes that by winning a championship that he find his heart. But sometimes the trophy at the end of the road isn’t what’s most valuable. The Tin Man gets to the end of the yellow brick road he learns that it’s not about the destinations it’s about the journey.
Grinding out with your team when your backs are constantly against the wall and overcoming those obstacles is what gives you a heart. That gives the Larry O’Brien trophy value that you can’t put in words. The Tin Man taking the easy way is a testament of his weak character that is slowly creeping out for the world to see. Now with his new teammates he joins them on their quest to make their third finals appearance, which they were favored to win even without Durant, according to Vegas odds.
The world will watch the Warriors cruise through the regular season, and maybe even a get championship for the Tin Man. At the end of his career he might have a few rings. But even if he has the rings, Kevin Durant doesn’t have the heart.