Kevin Durant’s WSJ interview highlights the love-hate relationship of playing at a high level
by: Angela Davis
When most of us look at professional athletes, we see the money, fame and all the accoutrements that come with playing at a high level. We assume that though there are some challenges that come with this level of success, the money and fame should certainly make handling those challenges easier, right? WRONG! In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, famed NBA player Kevin Durant spoke about the “circus” that surrounds players and the league.
(from WSJ)… Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” Durant told the WSJ. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”
It’s par for the course for players to be on the receiving end of hate and fury from the same fans who once love them. The advent of social media has made athletes feel ‘closer’ to average fans, and thus ‘touchable’ and more vulnerable to feeling the wrath. Most players know this and can shoulder the burden, but it’s still heavy–and it can take a mental toll.
“We talk about mental health a lot. … We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.” People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” Durant said of the time after his decision. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.
All of this can leave a player bitter, and Durant is no exception. He doesn’t have fond memories, not just of fans, but of the staff too. They all changed when he decided to leave.
Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena [after joining the Warriors],” Durant told the WSJ. “And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, ‘Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?’
“I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that. I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That s— must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”
Still, Durant has a love for the game. In spite of critics, hate, and venomous remarks and behavior, Durant holds close to his heart the game that has change his life and helped him improve the lives of others. He knows fully what this game, and his ability to be successful as a player in this game has done for him.
Without basketball, I wouldn’t have done much on earth,” Durant told the WSJ. “I wouldn’t have seen stuff that I’ve seen, compared to my friends I grew up with.”
It seems Durant has a full understanding of what this game is all about–on and off the court. Certainly the aspects of the game, including social media also makes what the players “feel” more real. As they learn and try to navigate this sometimes crazy world of sports, I hope they learn to disconnect and focus on what’s important. Fans, like feelings, are fickle. Players should stay true to who they are–and remain mentally healthy in the process.