Golden State Super Warriors
An Abrasion to America?
The 4th of July is the landmark day that unifies America, throwing out any political party ties or polarizing personal perspectives. This day is an anomaly, but it shows how we all can harmoniously agree on the basic pillars of which America was founded upon. July 4th binds us all together to remind us how no other country prides itself in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness like America. Yet on the 240th birthday of the land of freedom, a seismic event occurred in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player, Kevin Durant, left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. Durant chose to further his career with the greatest regular season team in league history, abandoning the franchise of which he had spent the first 9 years of his professional life with. The scrappy Tornado Alley darlings were spurned by the presumptuous sultans of Silicon Valley. Durant sparked fireworks over the Bay Area and the Dust Bowl on the 4th that added extra celebration or despair. But there’s more in common with Independence Day and a superstar of a sports league than just spastic vibrant ejaculations in the sky. The reasoning behind Durant’s decision shares many of the same aspects and ideas with the founding and canonization of America.
There is a stench of betrayal and desecration in regard to Durant’s joining of the Golden State Warriors among emotional followers of the latest NBA free agent saga (they’re as endless as the list of planned Marvel movies, except each free agent decision manages to trump the last while I’m still bitter about the time wasted seeing the mumble-packed action of Age of Ultron last summer.) Pundits and NBA fans lament that Durant has taken the easy route to NBA immortality by joining the team with the best win-loss record in the last 2 seasons. That the 7 time NBA All-Star has committed an act so sacrilegious that no one else would even consider joining a better team as he did. Don’t let these almighty loons shape your view of Durant. Kevin Durant simply chose the most logical route that would enable him to finally be within the same ridiculously pompous lexicon as the once reviled LeBron James or Julius Erving; two other NBA greats who supposedly were not great due to not winning a championship soon enough in a sport that requires the performances of others, hence it being a team sport, in order to be wholly triumphant.
This depredation of Kevin Durant’s decision and character has been rooted in a false spreading of a notion in our culture of one needing to fend for themselves and to make the best of the situation given in order to attain total success. Basically, that the principal of rugged individualism should be applied as a blanket within our individual consciences. We parse this ideology as the absolute way to advance socially and economically. This principal also inherently denies any sort of assistance or radical change to the situation already bestowed, even if it legitimately improves the situation. Durant was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, now the aforementioned Thunder, having 9 seasons to reach the Holy Grail of the NBA with the “home” franchise and failed. All along, Durant was a bystander to larger actions at play: the team that drafted him, his teammates, his coach, his city, etc. On July 4th, Kevin Durant decided to make best of his chances in being a champion, on his own volition, and agreed to play for the Warriors.
An incredible opening arrived in Kevin Durant’s career, an opening that he has rarely been able to utilize. Durant left behind the 43rd best market in the country for the 6th best. Durant chose to play with the most recent MVP, the most recent coach of the year, the most recent executive of the year, and 3 members of the 2016 All-NBA teams as opposed to just playing with 1 in Oklahoma City. Would someone really choose to stay as a manager of an exceptional firm in quaint Kalamazoo when the opportunity arose to become a manager of a preeminent corporation in Philadelphia? We crave to excel, to further our capabilities and expertise in the greatest manner possible. It’s part of the American fabric to exceed past what is expected and to take advantage of great situations that arise. To rebuff such golden opportunities would be even more ignorant than lambasting one for capitalizing on their worth and potential for greatness.
Saturday Night Live has been responsible for the initial impetus of the success of some of the best comedic stars over the past 40 years. Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, and many more had their careers nurtured and jump-started by the weekly sketch show. They stayed on the show for several seasons and ultimately jumped ship for ultimate artistic and commercial viability. It wasn’t a feeble move for Murray to join forces with National Lampoon legends Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman for the films Stripes, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day. Bill Murray was fulfilling his creative abilities and worldwide idolization as an actor. Adam Sandler’s fame and fortune have skyrocketed ever since leaving the live NBC program, grossing $4.6 billion and becoming the subject of debates as to whether his films are as worthwhile for consumption as genetically modified foods. Yet by branching out from the fertile roots of Saturday Night Live, these once predominant television performers have reached successes that would have not been attainable if they had remained. They would have been remembered instead as footnotes within the history of SNL, albeit slightly larger than those of Horatio Sanz or Sarah Silverman. And no one decried these actors for leaving SNL for greener pastures as they were only pursuing what was a logical step in their careers and aspirations.
I understand that comparing Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder to Bill Murray and Saturday Night Live is not completely congruous. That SNL actors can be on the show and work on films at the same time, but that is missing the point. Both are able to advance past the backings of fledgling backgrounds and exploit the well-earned opportunities that allow them to reach new heights in their career.
Society has cultivated the sentiment of being fortunate for what you currently have and make due without any complaining, support, or any semblance of carrying out a “traitorous” action. We dub America as a bastion of individual achievement, regardless of the burden that is imposed by forces outside of our control. There is nothing weak in venturing to conquer challenges in new arenas that present benefits that outweigh the current situation. We should stop heaping undue praise on those who do not buck the system, remaining obedient cogs in a setting they cannot even control. This ridiculous praise only stifles those who feel that leaving for rosier circumstances is an act of treason.
While, in the case of Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State, it is acceptable for Durant and Thunder loyalists to feel heartbroken, it is equally as outlandish to criticize him for seizing an American dream scenario. We need to stop viewing America as a land of success that is only capable within the vacuum of one’s preordained environment as if we are in a rigid dictatorship and the pawn is never in your hands. As Americans, we are able to pursue better or worse opportunities and thrive or falter by our own free will. Kevin Durant decided to join a team of professionals that would make the Avengers jealous (no one is impressed with Jeremy Renner’s Medieval-like, arrow wielding powers which wouldn’t even be worthy for King Arthur’s Round Table.) While another Independence Day passes, we should be reminded of the true underpinnings of America: liberated to live a life that allows us to pursue happiness. For Kevin Durant, full happiness equates to being the best, being crowned as NBA champion. 30 years from now no one will discount a 2017 Golden State championship because Durant seized the chance to play on an All-Star laden team. Similarly, we don’t discount Bill Russell for winning championships with a cavalcade of Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach. Kevin Durant deems the achievement of becoming NBA champion best possible through rewarding his talents by joining one of the best teams of all time. Or else America should be known as the land of mirage and undue anguish.