The C.J. McCollum saga is an attention-grabbing twist within the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant’s battle in opposition to damaging public notion. McCollum doesn’t should be dragged as totally as he has been — his feedback concerning the front-running nature of Durant have been comparatively sober and are broadly held — however the episode illustrates the state of play, so it must be introduced up once more.

The cost, one made every day since Durant declared he would be part of the Warriors in July 2016, is that KD joined an overpowered enemy as soon as he discovered he couldn’t beat them. This cost is actually true — Durant’s Thunder fell one maniacal Klay Thompson run wanting beating the defending champion Warriors in 2016 — but additionally, sadly, carries loads of gross baggage.

It’s value noting that the Twitter flare-up in McCollum vs. Durant got here from the Blazers guard being requested if KD’s transfer certified as a “b—— transfer.” It’s an unpleasant time period; McCollum fortunately sidestepped it whereas nonetheless critiquing Durant harshly.

What Durant stated in response twists it up fairly good.

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Durant, all through the brouhaha, has spent much less time defending his resolution (one thing he’s accomplished at size over the previous two years) than he has attacking McCollum’s workforce. That is genius.

Through the notorious podcast dialog between the 2, Durant ridiculed McCollum’s suggestion that the Warriors including DeMarcus Cousins materially modified the Blazers’ probabilities of successful, as a result of that advised that Portland had any likelihood in any way to start with.

KD: I recommend you simply preserve enjoying, man, and don’t fear about what goes on on the high of issues.

CJ: We proper there on the high of issues. We have been the third seed!

KD: Calm down.

CJ: We have been proper there, simply barely under No. 1 an No. 2.

KD: How’d you play?

CJ: Some unlucky conditions occurred within the first spherical?

KD: How’d you play?

CJ: Some unlucky circumstances occurred.

KD: Like a eighth seed.

It really works on two ranges. First, it reminds everybody that the Warriors have received two straight titles and three of 4 earlier than including Cousins. Second, it deflects the criticism away from the Warriors by refocusing the inferiority the place it belongs: on everybody else. Basketball followers like to make enjoyable of Durant for becoming a member of the NBA’s hegemonic energy. However basketball followers additionally love making enjoyable of groups who constantly fall properly wanting greatness, and the Blazers high that listing of targets.

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McCollum has some extent about Durant. However then once more, McCollum’s Blazers bought swept by a decrease seed lacking their All-Star middle, so … does it matter what he thinks? That’s the defensive mechanism in motion. It’s fairly efficient at stopping the talk chilly. It’s not altogether clever, nevertheless it works.

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The correct response is to query what, if the superior workforce is so superior, is claimed superior workforce so afraid of? If groups just like the Blazers and everybody else had no shot in opposition to the Warriors within the first place, why are you on the market grabbing DeMarcus Cousins for a tune? Clearly, Golden State should be fearful about one thing.

If different NBA gamers do really need to persuade Durant to go away the Warriors in 2019 — which NBA gamers completely ought to need to accomplish — that is the thread to tug on. This needs to be a leaguewide purpose: make Durant really feel so unhealthy about his 2016 resolution and happy together with his (by-then) three championships that he leaves as a free agent subsequent summer season.

2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Minicamp

Picture by Ethan Miller/Getty Pictures

Right here’s the playbook they need to use to attempt to persuade him

Was Durant afraid he’d by no means win a title and thus by no means be part of the pantheon of the best gamers ever with out becoming a member of the Warriors? Are the Warriors afraid that in the event that they aren’t heads-and-shoulders above opponents by way of expertise depth and roster — with now 5 reputable All-Stars — that they’ll crumble like they did within the 2016 Finals? Is Durant afraid that with out all these All-Stars round him, he’ll crumble like he did within the 2016 Western Convention Finals? Is he fearful that few take his accomplishments with Golden State critically provided that he’s modified the problem degree to lowest setting?

He needs to be fearful about that.

Is he fearful that, now securely within the pantheon, everybody sooner or later will know him not merely as probably the greatest scorers ever, however as an MVP-caliber participant who joined a 73-win superpower after shedding to them within the playoffs?

He needs to be fearful about that.

Is he fearful two straight Finals MVPs haven’t elevated him to the standing of Finest Basketball Participant within the World, however have as a substitute made him virtually invisible because the basketball world (up to date gamers included!) talk about the weak point of his aggressive structure?

He needs to be fearful about that.

Is he fearful that he actually has no fan base of his personal, not in Oklahoma Metropolis, not within the Bay Space … probably not anyplace?

He needs to be fearful about that.

Is he fearful that future generations of Oklahomans will laud and bear in mind Russell Westbrook, not him, and future Warriors followers will herald the rise of the golden youngster Stephen Curry because the franchise’s savior, not Durant? Is he fearful this may occur regardless of being objectively higher than Westbrook throughout his time with OKC and not less than on par with, if not superior, to Curry as a Warriors?

He needs to be fearful about that.

As Durant hammers inferior foes like McCollum and the Blazers, that is the thread those that need him to go away ought to pull.

Durant has come to peace with the choice he made in 2016. That’s over. Calling him names and analogizing it to siding with bullies received’t really have an effect on Durant anymore.

However query the longer term, query his legacy, query how continued partnership with Curry and the Warriors impacts his place within the pantheon and the way he’ll be remembered in basketball lore — possibly that will worm inside his coronary heart and mind and lead him to go away.

That’s what those that need him to go away Golden State all need, proper? Isn’t that the upshot of criticizing him anyhow, that he’ll reverse course and strike out on his personal once more?

Making him really feel unhealthy about 2016 isn’t going to work. Making him really feel insecure about 2046 may. Purpose for that.


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