Fallout from Kevin Duran’t decision to join the Warriors last month continues, and people — fans, media and the like — are still trying to make sense of the announcement. Aside from just taking Durant at his word when asked about the move, there’s been a lot of speculation about what happened. Now we can add this next nugget from ESPN’s Royce Young to the list.
Young’s story about what Russell Westbrook’s re-signing means for the Thunder’s next chapter, divulged that Durant was worn down by an inability to go out and be a normal 20-something in public because he was always trying to be respectful and courteous as the franchise cornerstone.
Durant always appeared to be the perfect fit with Oklahoma City, with his humble nature and down-home demeanor. But he also was drawn to a bigger city, not necessarily for the brighter lights, but for the ability to blend. In Oklahoma City, Durant carried a larger-than-life burden everywhere he went. He’d privately lamented to friends an inability to be in public. Westbrook’s ideal night off the floor, though? At home with his wife, Nina, watching anything other than basketball. That’s a fit with Oklahoma City.
That tidbit about KD is not that surprising, if it’s true.
A big reason Michael Jordan retired for the first time in 1993 was the unhealthy glare his global fame engendered (a global fame that he cultivated, but still). There’s no such thing as a safe public space at that point in a player’s life, as their ability to go incognito vanishes.
By most accounts, Kevin is a private person who would prefer to fly under the radar. But when you’re the most-recognized athlete in all of Oklahoma City, and you’re 7 feet tall, there’s no such thing as a covert sojourn to the mall to get a smoothie and make fun of the people buying blacklight posters at Spencer’s Gifts.
The rebuttal to this explanation is what all of us plebes say when famous people complain about their fame: Nobody asked you to be a famous basketball player and it comes with the territory. Well, Kevin Durant is really good at putting a leather ball in an iron cylinder. That’s it, really. He’s not in show business, he’s a basketball player, and a pretty introverted one, if we’re going by our own interactions with him and the various reports we’ve read. So, yeah, it probably annoys him he can’t lead more of his life away from the court unencumbered by the resulting fanfare most of his appearance in public will cause.
In San Francisco, he’s still going to get mobbed when he’s trying to eat sushi or taking a tour of Alcatraz, but Muir Woods National Monument might work. Redwoods are excellent for camouflage, especially if you’re a tall NBA player, and they’re certainly better than the flat landscape of Oklahoma City. We think we get it now; Durant went to the Warriors because of the tall trees. Glad we figured that out.