Is this the single must-read piece of the preseason? Probably.
Here's perhaps the most telling quote...
"I mean, I wish I could (have fun), but I see it as so much more. I've got a lot riding on this," Oden said. "Coach is like, 'Calm down and relax, it's just a game' ... but I'm like 'Look, I've got so many people wanting me to do this and that for this team, and the pressures of this team, the expectations of this team ... I can't relax.'"
Welcome to the NBA.
I hate to be blunt here but I will be.
Deal with it, Greg.
Last year Kevin Durant:
- was playing for a coach that hadn't been a head coach in a decade,
- was playing for a brand new, untested management team,
- was playing for a franchise that was engaged in a bitter war with its own city and fanbase,
- served as the advertising face of multiple major international brands,
- witnessed his veteran teammates traded one after another, and
- was asked to play multiple positions, deal with double-teams and carry the load offensively as the youngest player in the NBA.
KD went out and played. He played in 80 out of 82 games. He hit a game-winning shot. He won Rookie of the Year. He often did it with a smile, despite his burning, competitive desire to win. Despite never having tasted defeat like this in his lifetime.
One thing you absolutely did not hear from Kevin Durant was whining.
On the day the Sonics traded Wally Szczerbiak last spring, I sat with Kevin in the Sonics locker room in the Rose Garden. He wasn't happy. It was another bad day in a year-long string of bad days. But he handled the questions respectfully and said all the right things. He even said thank you.
Now, he's dealing with his franchise's move halfway across the country at the whim of an egomaniacal owner.
Again, KD is handling it without any whining. Just today, he was bowling on TV for Chris Paul's charity. Seriously.
I often ask myself when confronted by difficult life situations: what would Kevin Durant do?
If you gave Kevin Durant the best owner in professional sports, a top 5 coach in the league, a top 2 GM in the league, an all-star for a teammate, one of the best international players in the game for a teammate, a rising power forward star for a teammate, a steady veteran point guard for a teammate, and a fanbase that absolutely, without question, adores you, I think Kevin Durant would be thanking his lucky stars.
I mean, just look how happy he was when his team drafted Russell Westbrook. Russell Freaking Westbrook. That dude would be our third string point guard and it was fiesta time for KD.
If Greg is really getting down, he should seriously consider some role reversal. Perspective will do wonders.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
This is the NBA. This is what you signed up for.
-- Ben (email@example.com)