NBA Stars Discover the Limits of the Player Empowerment Era
NBA Stars Discover the Limits of the Player Empowerment Era: Although LeBron James and Kevin Durant earned their places at the table, none of their recommendations have worked out precisely as expected, placing them and their clubs in a vulnerable situation.
A few months ago, Kevin Durant was seated next to David Letterman while Netflix cameras recorded him praising marijuana’s benefits for sportsmen. He joked, “I’m truly high right now. Despite how frequently we hear from him, Durant was his normal even-tempered, stoned, and generally stoned-faced self, who was hard to read.
The ambiguous yet definitive Twitter bio that Durant has had for more than a decade reads: “I’m me, I do me, and I chill”—whether he’s smoking a joint or a whole franchise. This is one of the few unquestionable insights into Durant. He went out of Oklahoma City. Two titles later, he left Golden State. And no matter what it does to his image, “He genuinely wants that trade to Phoenix or Miami or maybe even Boston or Philadelphia,” as Marc Stein stated on his “Substack this week.
By paying close attention to Durant’s every word and following, the public has attempted to understand his motivations. When asked if he is happy, Durant typically reacts by trolling or musing, questioning why this is even a relevant question in the first place. The explanation is straightforward: He has a lot of whims, and they all have league-wide repercussions.
The lessons of LeBron James, the savior of superstar power plays, have been elevated by Durant. James and Durant were drawn to the Lakers and Nets because they both agreed to the same deal: give superstars a seat at the table in exchange for titles, glory, etc. The Lakers and Nets, though, have evolved into a cautionary tale about the limitations of player empowerment due to their shared ownership of just one championship and the uncertainty surrounding their squads for training camp next month. James himself is releasing the reins. He was in a good position to leverage his impending free agency to put pressure on the Lakers to take decisive action, but on Wednesday he signed a two-year agreement, thus absolving them of all responsibility.
Durant, meanwhile, continues to push himself and explore his limitations. He desires Kyrie. DeAndre Jordan is who he wants. In his mind, Steve Nash. Wait, forget about it. He actually wants to go. Nevertheless, Durant has not received his desire for a trade 50 days after making the request, and the most recent odds indicate he’ll start the season in Brooklyn.
To enter a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai and demand that he reverse the decisions that you specifically requested him to make requires guts. It turns out that Tsai has enthusiasm as well.