Oklahoma City Thunder star combo guard Kevin Durant has immeasurable star power. This star power, in large part, is the reason Oklahoma’s capital city was able to earn a thumbs up from the NBA as relocation occurred from the Upper Northwest. This star power is undoubtedly the reason the Thunder is consistently the hottest ticket in a town with only one true professional sports franchise.
Without Kevin Durant, the Thunder, are, well, you can do the math.
It’s well within the scope, and to some degree, the responsibility of sports media to be critical of a local team’s star players. In fact, it’s expected, otherwise objectivity quickly morphs into subjectivity. In certain situations, however, a negative narrative can be ill-timed and more importantly, ill-advised.
See example numero uno, this morning’s headline from the Daily Oklahoman Thunder Extra:
This same Mr. Unreliable is a guy who took a franchise in one of the NBA’s smallest markets and took them within a few games of an NBA Championship just two years ago. This same Mr. Unreliable was the NBA scoring leader this season at 32 points per game, and is second in playoff scoring average at 28 points per game. This same Mr. Unreliable is an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
This same Mr. Unreliable is the living definition of a franchise player.
Sure, there’s plenty of time before Durant could actually examine other options, other places where he could take his talents, but the smallest suggestion of a negative narrative framed in his direction could quickly turn into the full narrative. Just ask LeBron James. Durant certainly wouldn’t be the first to face a media attempt to define a player’s legacy, and their ability as a leader, when short-term struggles are encountered in the midst of long-term success.
Careful, Oklahoma City.
There are plenty of bigger, and much more attractive, fish in the sea.