March 20, 2017, 12:18 pm
With the Warriors and Thunder set to continue their budding set of games played against one another (since rivalry seems like a bit of a stretch), more layers of intrigue and pettiness continue to emerge.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes had a piece detailing some angst coming out of Golden State over how the Thunder handled Kevin Durant’s return to OKC.
Perhaps angst is underselling their true emotions, which were described by Haynes as “furious and bewildered.”
As everyone knows, extreme anger and confusion mixed together lead people to make only the most rational, poignant statements. Statements like this one, admittedly paraphrased from anonymous sources:
“[T]he Thunder’s silence contributed to the raw emotions, outrage and indignation that created an unsettling, hostile atmosphere for a player many consider to be the franchise’s all-time best.”
Yes, the organization’s silence made it much worse. Because if there’s one thing about humans that we can bank on, it’s that they’ll listen respectfully when you tell them who they can and can’t boo. People love being told how to express their own emotions.
To assume that the fans wouldn’t unleash on Durant is delusional at best. At worst, it’s blatant stupidity – and I don’t get the sense that the Warriors are stupid.
Did they think a quick video tribute or press conference was really going to fix this? A rainbows-and-unicorns reception was never going to happen (as the Warriors surely knew), and it’s silly to think that a small gesture like that would calm anyone down even for a second. Chesapeake Energy Arena would’ve booed that to hell and back. It could’ve been entertaining, but it also would’ve been far more uncomfortable for Durant and his family and friends. Not to mention it’s part of OKC’s policy to simply avoid stuff like that. Making an exception would’ve just called more attention to the team bending over backwards to placate Durant with hilariously futile efforts.
The sources also said that Golden State felt that someone from the Thunder should’ve addressed the media on Durant’s behalf.
Get out of here with that garbage. Durant is a grown man who made his own choice. He has every right to do that, and to expect someone from his former employer to go to the media (beyond the kind words Sam Presti had already delivered) and make a statement for him is insane. Any sort of special press conference for Durant would’ve definitely been adored by current Thunder players, who in no way would’ve been alienated.
You can be disappointed in the fans, particularly those who went out of their way to give Wanda Durant a hard time. But the organization owes him nothing, and to whine about a rival player getting non-preferential treatment is incredibly weak. There is quite possibly nothing that the Thunder could’ve done to diminish the reaction. So why bother bringing it up?
It’s pretty established at this point that the Warriors play best when they’re pissed off. There’s nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with making up grievances to get you there. This, though, is next level.
“We didn’t like the way this was handled.”
What would you have preferred?
“A statement from top brass would’ve been nice.”
You mean like the statement from top brass that was given? If so, what’s the problem?
“We just didn’t like how this was handled.”
So acknowledging that the Warriors’ issues here are completely asinine and have no real resolution, it begs the question of who decided to take this to the media in the first place. It doesn’t sound player-driven, and it certainly isn’t anyone in basketball ops who’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut. And it’s definitely not the coach.
Steve Kerr disputed Haynes’ story today, calling the Thunder a first-class organization and calling Presti a friend.
Kerr is as thoughtful and eloquent as they come, so it’s no surprise that he said what he said. While his refutation makes some sense considering who looks bad in this report, it’s not like Kerr can speak on behalf of the whole organization. Like if they had someone in ownership who dabbles in overt arrogance, for example. If.
It also does a bit of groundwork in terms of knocking the Thunder down a peg while comparatively highlighting the idea that the Warriors know how to treat people better – I mean, just look at all the nice things they think should’ve been said! What nice guys! Look at how gracefully they would handle uncomfortable situations. Wouldn’t you want to play for an organization like that, prospective free agents? Pending free agents, even. Pending free agents like Durant, among others.
Of course, given how Durant was emotionally drained after his first trip to OKC as a villain coupled with Golden State’s now-undying need to be the bad guys, that sort of seems counterproductive. The guy who didn’t like being booed is supposed to be cool with the guys who revel in being hated now? It’s not like this report had its intended effect, though I can’t speak for anyone other than me. If you read Haynes’ column and came away thinking “man, the Warriors seem like a group that knows how to treat people right,” let me know. As far as thoughts that popped up, there were a handful of others that came first.
In a perfect world, this sort of petty garbage will die out eventually. Russell Westbrook will try to end Zaza Pachulia tonight, Kevin Durant will get booed while wearing street clothes and this’ll be about the basketball soon enough. Until the Warriors stop building straw men to take issue with, we’re going to keep hearing about this type of news.
That anger is part of what makes them great, and all of what makes them so tiresome.