Kevin Durant was well-positioned to tell the world it doesn’t get a say on what he does with his money – either receiving it or distributing it.
The reason? It’s his, and he won’t give us his PIN numbers.
But then he derailed himself by adding this little bit of victimology.
“They only (criticized his decision to defer nearly $10 million to ease the team’s cap squeeze) it because it's the Warriors and it's me and they love to hate anything we do right now,” Durant told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “A lot of players have (taken pay cuts). It wasn't that I wanted the praise. I've learned from Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and how it has helped them over the years, and I thought, if they did it, why can't I? Why shouldn't I sacrifice? People wanted the money to break us up, and I didn't want that to happen.”
He’s making two cases here, and one is just unfounded paranoia. People did want the money to break the Warriors up for entirely tactical reasons – that, children, is the nature of salary cap sports. If one team is too overwhelming, the only way to quickly undo them is to watch them get into luxury tax trouble.
But people don’t hate the Warriors, and while he might feel differently, people don’t hate Kevin Durant. They envy them, and him. Envy is not the same as hate. That’s why there are different words for the two concepts. Any NBA team that doesn’t envy the Warriors is a team that’s tanking.
Besides, a critic only has as much power as he or she is granted by the target. Durant did the wise and thoughtful thing, for his basketball career and his post-basketball career. Anyone who doesn’t see that is simply too stupid to care about, and athletes pride themselves on not listening to critics, don’t they?
In sum, Durant is right that other teams wish the Warriors’ dynastette will end sooner rather than later. But hate isn’t the right word. Not even close.