Kevin Durant’s Legacy is The Only Thing that Matters

Kevin Durant has agreed to join the Golden State Warriors. It seemed absurd that this could even happen, but the rumours were indeed true after all.

There will be a plethora of hot takes on Durant’s move over the coming days, now that he’s made his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in what Forbes has already described as a “smart business/basketball decision.”

Here’s the thing: Durant could have taken a one-year extension and stayed at Oklahoma, a team that came ridiculously close to edging out the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Make no mistake: OKC was a genuine title contender. They made a three-man trade for the declining Serge Ibaka that many viewed as a good net win. They just had to convince Kevin Durant to stay the course and stick things out. And they couldn’t even do that. How is it even possible?

Well, here’s the thing. Durant is being driven by a thing called “legacy”.

The dictionary definition of “legacy” is quite modest, in that it basically refers to a) something (such as property or money) that is received from somebody who has died; b) something that happened in the past or that comes from someone in the past. However, when viewed as a social construct, the importance of “legacy” suddenly makes a lot more sense.

“Legacy” is something that is usually, but not always, viewed after-the-fact. US President Barack Obama is currently in his own legacy-burnishing years, hyper-aware that every decision he has made will be framed within the context of how it will look to historians 50 years down the track. He’s got plenty of rings to his name: Obamacare, the Paris Climate Deal, ordering the raid that killed Bin Laden, etc. In politics, one must collect as many “rings” as possible, and deflect to these throughout the remainder of your life whenever questioned about your tenure (Howard, J, on gun control, etc).

Obama is all about legacy
Obama is all about legacy

High-profile athletes take a similar stance in regards to the importance of legacy. We are in a fast-moving social media world, where people can air their unfiltered thoughts via smartphones and have that message communicated globally. 

Everyone has an opinion on who the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) is, whether we’re offering a POTUS power ranking, or picking our top five point guards. It’s the easiest thing to do. So you think that Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete of all time? Why not Bradman, who statistically was a more dominant player in his chosen sport? And so on and so forth. It’s silly and unscientific, but nonetheless enjoyable.

On Bradman, it’s difficult to imagine he was conscious of the legacy he would be leaving in 1948, when he was dismissed for a duck in his final test. But then again, perhaps he was thinking about it, after all? An average of 99.94 has a certain symmetry and assonance to it, and perhaps the Don knew, even then, that this imperfect yet pure number would secure his legacy forever. 

That said, the idea of “legacy” does seem to be a distinctly 21st Century phenomenon. It has coincided with the uber-professionalism of sport (i.e. money) and the ubiquity of social media. Players make official written statements when they leave their club to justify the move in terms of their career, and to keep themselves from appearing the villain.

Kevin Durant released a statement on the Players Tribune website entitled ‘My Next Chapter’. In a bid to get on the front foot and control the message, he gave the following explanation for his decision.

“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”

chapter

Durant’s effort to categorise this move as not just a career decision but one based on “personal growth” and “my evolution as a man” is a commendable attempt to spin this in a positive fashion. Of course, this is corporate comms 101. He can’t exactly come out and say “I don’t think I can win at Oklahoma with this current roster. My best chance is to go to the best team in the Western Conference and win titles there. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Even though this is obviously the reason for his departure, he cannot actually say that. We’re not quite ready to hear that, yet.

It’s perhaps unfair that Durant has always been lumped alongside “one-club men” like Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, as someone who would play out their career for the team that drafted them. But it’s worth noting that all those players managed to win a championship. It’s this fear of missing out that has driven Durant to make the move to the Bay Area. What’s the point of being a “one-club man” if you can’t win a ring there, in a world where rings mean literally everything?

Like Obama, we see in Durant what we wanted to see. Durant was a friendly, polite young man with bucket-loads of integrity. But based on events somewhat out of his control, Durant has made a difficult decision based on realist principles (i.e. the relentless pursuit of championship rings), which will ultimately shape the way he is viewed both today and after his career is over. In short, the ruthless world of modern professional sport is no place for an idealist.

The fans and media cannot fault Durant for taking this opportunity even if it clashes with their desired perception of him as a loyal franchise player, for it’s the fans and media themselves who have forced players to carefully consider their legacies. The word “legacy” is a socially constructed idea that is influencing athletes to consider their careers in binary terms. If Durant doesn’t win a ring at the Warriors, he will be considered one of the great failures.

It’s reductive reasoning, sure, but sadly true.

By Dave Edwards

TPA’s Election Analysis: Week Seven – The Night Before Shitmas

Finally, after seven weeks of tawdry sexual imagery and poorly formed sporting parallels, TPA’s Alasdair McClintock puts this madness to rest.

*****

The Night Before Shitmas

After several torrid months we now find ourselves here, on the eve of the election. Thank heavens. I don’t think it’s just me, but I have felt a real disconnection from this election and I’ve been tasked with analysing* the fucking thing.

Tomorrow, after I cast my vote, I will just be relieved I don’t have to pretend I’m on the phone when passing people handing out propaganda on the street anymore. I’ll still have to do it for charity workers, but you can’t have it all.

Strangely, I still don’t know who I will be voting for. The urge to draw a dick and balls on the ballot paper is strong this year. Real strong. But, as my father pointed out, the only person to see that dick and balls will likely be some lovely old lady volunteering her time to count the votes and she doesn’t need to be confronted with such a grotesque depiction of the male genitalia while doing her bit for the free world, does she?

Maybe she does … Maybe it will give her a thrill.

Granny
Oh, my …

But horny old grandmothers aside, all signs point to this being a very close election. There is a very good chance we will have a new Government come Sunday and Bill Shorten will be our new Prime Minister – despite the fact he is well behind on pretty much every poll you care to dig up. I still haven’t decided whether this would be a good thing or not.

I disagree strongly with a lot of the Liberal Party’s policies, but I can’t say I’m too down with Labor’s either. Vote Independent or Green! I hear you holler. Well, I just can’t shake the feeling that would largely be pointless, given the electorate I’m in. I guarantee you they’re not getting in around here.

The highlight for me and many others will be the sausage sizzle and with the candidates being so similar the biggest decision a lot of us will have to make is whether to have tomato sauce or not. It is a tough one, to be sure, but I’m going to back ‘Yes’ in for the majority on that one. Although, personally, I will be voting for mustard.

ELECTMUSTARD_BUTTON
The people’s choice.

As for The Big One, I’m going to go with Burt the psychic crocodile and back Malcolm and the gang to sneak it in, on the back of Bill Shorten’s staggering lack of charisma. Dick and balls might run a close third, with the Greens not too far behind.

I’m just pleased that after seven weeks we can finally put this monstrosity to rest. It has dug its own grave, said its prayers and as it kneels before the shallow hole, shotgun to its head, I’m not sure I’m even willing to afford it any final words.

I know what they’re going to be anyway … “Jobs and economy.”

By Alasdair McClintock

Twitter: @AWJP83

* I use the word very loosely.

Read Week One – The Leaders here

Read Week Two – The Major Parties here

Read Week Three – The Big Issues here

Read Week Four – “Economics, Dear Watson” here

Read Week Five – The Grind here

Read Week Six – The Media here

TPA’s Election Analysis: Week Six – The Media

Is TPA the only truly neutral voice in this election? Are we even neutral? We don’t even know.

*****

The Media

I picked up a Daily Telegraph the other day – don’t judge me, I was flicking to the sport – when a little side bar caught my eye. ‘Greens Latest Lunacy’* was the heading. I chuckled sadly at this brazen lack of objectivity and read the so-called ‘lunacy’. It was about some Greens candidate saying Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, was his inspiration.

They lambasted him for having the hide to compare himself to a charming and handsome leader whose mother “partied with the Rolling Stones,” happily ignoring the fact he only said Trudeau was an inspiration, not that he was in any way like him. I find inspiration in Lebron James and I’ve got to tell you, I’m nothing like Lebron James. The closest I come to his discipline is typing the word into Pornhub.

Sasssssssssssssssssssssss ...
Sasssssssssssssssssssssss …

But it got me thinking, have Australian journalists just simply given up? “Don’t believe everything that you read in the papers,” was an oft touted line back in the day when people actually read papers, but now it might be more accurate to say “Don’t believe anything that you read in the papers.” I sure as hell don’t. The sport scores are about the only thing I trust and even then I’ll often seek a second source.

We live in a write it now, worry about the facts later era and whatever quality journalism there may be out there is swiftly lost in a fetid ejaculation of quickly thrown together articles ending in a string of ‘Tweets’ by sad loners and B-grade celebrities. Journalists these days don’t even have the self-respect to write their own words! Or maybe I’m being unfair of JStar69 from Penrith. She really nailed it in her 140 character rant. #Lol.

Slovenly, gravy stained, political writers spit bile at whoever their bosses tell them too and television journalists put on their make up and read their lines, and don’t really think too much about anything, apart from who they can get get to go down on them on the weekend.

This guy just looks fucking evil!
This guy just looks fucking evil!

These days I get most of my news from ABC Radio, as they seem to be the most level-headed, but the Lib’s would have us believe they are all wild-eyed lefties. Am I a wild-eyed lefty for listening? I don’t think I am, I’d like to think I’m in the middle, but maybe I’m delusional.

Sure, I don’t want to see the word destroyed and innocent people die, all in the name of a dollar, but should that make me left-wing? It just seems like simple common sense to me. Schoolyard shit, really. Be nice to your neighbours and don’t burn down your own fucking house.

There was an interesting story on the radio the other day (yes, ABC) about conservative Republican voters in America being uneasy on Donald Trump because of his vague position on abortion and small businesses being able to refuse LGBT people service. These are their main concerns? Really?

I can empathise with conservative attitudes to immigration to a certain extent, but when something doesn’t directly affect you in any way whatsoever, why care so much? Just bake the fucking cake for the gay couple and take their money! Stick a pube in it, if they really offend you so much.** That’s what capitalism is all about!

Make a Republican elephant ... with a penis cake pan!
Make a Republican elephant … with a penis cake pan!

But I’m rambling now. This election has sent me into a babbling delirium and I don’t know what’s up and what’s down. Who’s right and who’s left. Where I am or even who I’m going to vote for. All I know is I want this monstrosity to end.

By Alasdair McClintock

Twitter: @AWJP83

* I’m taking this from memory, that may not be 100% verbatim, but it’s more of less accurate.

** I would like to stress I am not advocating putting pubic hairs in anybody’s food, much less members of the LGBT community.

Read Week One – The Leaders here

Read Week Two – The Major Parties here

Read Week Three – The Big Issues here

Read Week Four – “Economics, Dear Watson” here

Read Week Five – The Grind here