Winners and Losers: Kevin Durant to Golden State
By Bob Johnson
Before Joey Chestnut had a chance to avenge last year’s bitter defeat in the July Fourth hot dog eating competition, Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Warriors made the rest of the NBA want to hurl. Some of the people (and companies) affected by this are more obvious than others. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the tectonic plates shifted by Durant’s departure.
Stephen A. Smith: Predictably, Stephen A. took the lowest road and easiest contrarian view he could find and called Kevin Durant’s decision to play in Golden State, “the weakest decision I’ve ever seen from a superstar.” Same guy, earlier this season, stared into an ESPN camera and threatened KD saying, “you don’t want to make an enemy out of me.” He was responding to Durant’s quote saying he and his people don’t talk to Stephen A., and therefore the free agency rumors he reports are lies.
Stephen A. is a loser because as soon as he tried to pile on Durant, almost everyone in basketball journalism piled on Stephen A. Smith. His long time First Take co-anchor, Skip Bayless, just left ESPN on June nineteenth and his colleagues took some not so subtle jabs at him on his way out the door. Stephen A. says his obvious takes in a loud, annoying way and gets everyone talking about him… Oh, shit! This is exactly what he wants. You got us all again. Touché Stephen A., touché
Tim Duncan: Less than an hour after KD announced his decision, The Vertical broke the news about Timmy’s retirement. Hard to say one of the winningest players of all-time is a loser though. Duncan’s retirement is like the US authorizing drone strikes in the Middle-East on Super Bowl Sunday or the NFL announcing their latest scandal during an episode of Game of Thrones. The strategy being, “maybe everyone will be too distracted to notice?” It would have been hard watching Duncan carry his peg leg through another season on the court. But announcing the same hour as everyone loses their minds over free agency, on the morning of Fourth of July? Add it to the list of the most Tim Duncan way to do something. Now we can confirm this is how Tim Duncan retires.
LeBron James: After wrestling back the title of “Best Player on the Planet” from Stephen Curry (and then wearing an Ultimate Warrior wrestling t-shirt just to make sure everyone noticed), LeBron will have to work overtime again to be the most talked about player in the league. The Warriors will be the headlining team next year even though LeBron brought a chip to “The Land” for the first time in 52 years. The plus side? A different superstar’s jersey burns this Independence Day. Nowadays, collective memories of “The Decision” are fading away like the picture of Marty McFly with his brothers and sisters. LeBron James beat the best regular season basketball team of all time, but apparently God still hates Cleveland.
Steven Adams: What hurts worse, a literal kick to the balls or a figurative one? Steven Adams may be the only person who really knows today. The whole Thunder team has to be feeling it where it hurts the most, but none more than Adams. I bet Draymond is trolling him via Direct Message this very moment.
Victor Oladipo: The Thunder probably won’t lose 26 straight like the Cavs the year after they lost LeBron, but this can’t be what Oladipo had in mind when he found out he was traded on draft night. Who knows? Maybe growing a mustache and hanging out with Kanter and Adams will be better than being apart of whatever misguided madness seems to be driving Rob Hennigan and the Magic right now.
Oklahoma Residents: There is now zero reason to live in Oklahoma unless you like tornadoes, earthquakes caused by fracking (primarily caused by the Thunder owner), and flaming tap water (ditto). Hell, KD may have even killed the Fourth of July for Oklahomans. I hope the new plan is to make Westbrook a secret oil prince to convince him to stay.
Adam Silver: The man was hoping to have a nice BBQ with (probably) Barak Obama, Oprah and Lin-Manuel Miranda today. Now he’s fielding calls from 28 pissed off NBA owners threatening a new lockout in 2017. (The Kings aren’t worried they have that Greek guy they traded the eighth pick for, plus a super-neat fireworks show later tonight.)
Kevin Love: Just when he thought his place on the roster was safe. The Cavs will play it cool and try to act like they’re basking in their championship afterglow, but they are freaking the fuck out right now. Dan Gilbert was the first person blowing up Silver’s phone this morning. David Griffin missed his chance to trade with the Celtics now that they got Horford in free agency. GM LeBron will try to tinker and Love is the obvious weak link.
StubHub: Season tickets already rumored to be sold out to the new Warriors stadium that may not be built in time for three seasons from now! Russell Wilson and Ciara spent $99,000 on courtside tickets to game seven of a BASKETBALL GAME! Notice the winner here is a ticket broker and not Warriors fans. Some of the guys sitting courtside next year do not know who Kevin Durant is today. I’m going to go work on an app now.
Opposing Players Genitals: They do not have to worry as much about Draymond unleashing all his anger and vengeance on them now that KD is on his squad. Green could have very well spent his entire summer dwelling on how a LeBron James taint slap may have cost his team a title. Now he can spend it happily flicking the back of Kyrie Irving’s head on the Team USA flights to and from the Olympics in Rio.
Jerry West: Look out Pat Riley, The Logo is officially your biggest competition for free agent whisperers. Can we please get a transcript of the 20-minute conversation between him and Durant? Twenty years ago West convinced Shaq to come to Los Angeles. That same summer he drafted Kobe Bryant. Two years ago he threw his body in front of the bus ready to ship Klay Thompson to Minnesota for Kevin Love. Today he helped lay the final cornerstone for possibly the greatest team of all time.
The Players Tribune: This morning I read somewhere “players tribune” was the third most googled phrase behind “Fourth of July” and “BBQ”. At this point in our society should we assume “most googled” means most popular AFTER all 2,467 of the most popular porn search phrases?
Nike: Nike’s summer wish list for their four signature players: Have Kobe retire in the most dramatic way imaginable (for a 17-65 win team)? Check. Extra bonus it was the same night the Warriors (lead by Under Armor phenom, Steph Curry) broke the record for best season ever at 73-9. The two games drew almost equal viewership.
Have two signature players win an NBA Championship? Check. LeBron cements his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time. Kyrie hits the game winning shot over Steph Curry (again, Nike’s greatest miss and now biggest foe). Double Check.
The fourth signature player, Durant, changes teams causing the biggest NBA shakeup in two years. He just released his new shoe last month. He will now usurp power from and split marketing time with Under Armor’s Stephen Curry. The Warriors other most marketable player is Draymond Green who’s also with Nike and regularly rocks LeBron’s kicks. Checkmate.
Seattle, Washington: For those NBA fans in Seattle who are the vengeful type anyways. Given the way the team left town I just assume it’s all of you. Every step closer the Thunder got to a championship must have been tortuous. This May they were on the precipice and 10 days ago, on draft night, they looked like they upgraded their squad again. Now you’re in your tower like Cersei, still alone, but you can at least watch the Supersonic-green flames engulf the championship franchise that never was and pour yourself a big goblet of wine.
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