Kevin Durant ruined basketball. At least that is the narrative ‘hot take nation’ likes to swirl around NBA circles — especially after his trade requests put a stranglehold on the offseason. What people fail to mention is that nothing the Brooklyn Nets star has done is foreign to the league.
To say that Durant consumed the summer would be an understatement. The news of his trade request placed the offseason on pause as teams scrambled to arrange their best inadequate offers.
Following rebuff after rebuff, the two-time champion allegedly attempted the ultimate power move; suggesting that the firing of General Manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash would make the trade request will go away fast. Neither worked, which led to Tuesday’s development that the Nets and Durant would move forward with their partnership.
The outcome? Questions about how Brooklyn and Durant move forward following the fallout.
Can Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets coexist after a failed attempt to exile Steve Nash and Sean Marks?
Short memories will tell the masses that what Durant did is a huge detriment to the team. Behavior that will leave the Nets in a cloud of awkwardness and desperately in need of repair. The same amnesia will cause pundits to forget that similar instances do not always end up on the bad side of the ball.
For context, a quick flashback to the 1981-82 season saw Magic Johnson request a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers because he did not enjoy playing basketball for coach Paul Westhead. As a result, Pat Riley was named head coach, birthed Showtime and won a title the same year. Twenty-four years later, Shaquille O’Neal admittedly put in the request for Riley to replace Stan Van Gundy and it resulted in another championship ring.
Sure, those are instances where changes were made. So maybe there were not much hard feelings to mend. However, Kobe Bryant’s summer of 2007 trade request came with a secretly recorded video of the five-time champ signaling his desired alternative being that the Lakers move his young center Andrew Bynum for star point guard Jason Kidd.
Bryant was not traded and neither was Bynum, but the Lakers ended up in the NBA Finals the season after that summer courtesy of a Pau Gasol trade. They lost that year, but rebounded by winning the next two Finals that followed. Similarly, LeBron James had an insinuation rebuffed that was more in line with Kevin Durant.
James’ tenure with the Miami Heat was accompanied by a hint at his coach’s ouster. Luckily for Erik Spoelstra, Riley stood strongly behind him and two titles and four NBA Finals appearances commenced. Now Nash is no Spoelstra. His coaching shortcomings with adjustments, schemes and lineups have shown that. Yet, Brooklyn’s owners are tossing their chips behind him the same way.
There is a theme here. Not only is Durant and the Nets situation not a new phenomenon, but it also is not a big deal if rings are gracing their fingers in June.