The summer of Draymond Green continues. The Golden State Warriors, forward fresh off his fourth championship, is opining about everything. This time it’s his longtime buddy and former teammate Kevin Durant. The Brooklyn Nets superstar wants out of Brooklyn and Draymond doesn’t see a problem with it, and thinks there is a double standard when it comes to athletes. But is he right?
“If Kevin Durant says, ‘I actually don’t wanna be here anymore, I wanna go to somewhere else,’ why does it matter? Why does that make you weak? Why does that make him – means he’s running from something? I don’t understand that,” Green said. “That’s the next step in his career. … If someone leaves Google to go to Apple after three or four years, and then they leave Apple after two years to go to Tesla. … No one is going to say that person ran.”
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) July 7, 2022
Of course, on its face and in a vacuum, Green is right. Nobody outside of sports who moves from job to job is seen as “running” from anything. They are doing what’s best for their careers.
But sports don’t operate in a vacuum, and unlike any other entity, sports has fans who use it as an avatar to project feelings about their own lives and values onto.
Durant leaving Oklahoma City and Golden State as a free agent shouldn’t be viewed any different than someone leaving Google, Apple or Tesla per Green’s analogy. He fulfilled his contractual obligations to both franchises and owed them nothing, despite what fans want to believe.
The situation in Brooklyn is a bit different. Durant signed a four-year contract extension last summer that began on July 1. Of course any contract is “made to be broken,” as the saying goes, but forcing your way out in year one doesn’t quite seem right.
Now, in the business world this happens all the time, but then you have non-compete clauses and such to protect the company losing the key employee who is breaking the contract. For the Nets Durant would have to be traded, so they can wait for the best possible deal and make the move then. They are under no obligation to move Durant immediately.
As to the idea of Durant being “weak” and “running from the challenge.” That’s something, fairly or not, he won’t be able to escape. This is where fans using sports as avatars and projecting their values comes into play.
For most human beings, life involves levels of struggle. Whether it be in their professional or personal lives. When success, however one measures it, is attained there is a value we place on it because of said struggles. When fans see a player of Durant’s ability (read: he’s better at his job than every NBA fan is at theirs) move to what they perceive as better (read: easier) situations, it doesn’t sit right.
Deep down fans want to see struggle because they have to struggle. By that same measure they view winning differently based on the level of struggle. It’s not a great way to enjoy sports, but that’s how many fans choose to.
So yes Green is right, double standards for athletes do exist. But the lens through which the majority of fans view sports is how it is, and no matter how much athletes want it to change, it won’t.