Draymond Green lit into his NBA brethren. Not all of them, mind you, but those who can’t resist taking shots at Kevin Durant for having the gall to do what he believes is the best thing for Kevin Durant.
Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Warriors, where he is now teammates with Green, has provoked a startling amount of jabs from NBA players, from select members of the media and, predictably and understandably, from the wounded and grieving members of the Thunder fan base.
Green was very specific with his comments, unloading on players who dare to sling mud toward Durant, with Clippers forward Paul Pierce being the most recent. Though Pierce was called out by name, Green was talking about any player who criticized Durant for doing what free agents have negotiated the right to do.
“I just wonder at what point do they get bored, talking about the same thing,” Green told reporters in Denver, where the Warriors practiced on Thursday. “You’ve got all these guys coming out talking, like Pierce. Dude, nobody cares what you did or who you did it for. Give it a break.
“Everybody’s got something to say, and then they want to take everything (Durant) says and twist it. He plays with the Warriors. OKC has their team; we have our team. All right? He left there.”
It’s exceedingly rich and a bit ironic that Pierce would join the line of those lobbing verbal grenades toward Durant and the Warriors. Pierce earned his only NBA championship ring as a member of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who presumably benefited greatly from the summertime additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Garnett left Minnesota for Boston after agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal. He didn’t embrace the move until after Allen signed off on a deal to leave the Seattle SuperSonics for Boston.
By moving boldly to add two All-Stars to incumbents Rajon Rondo and Pierce, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge saved his job. He also engineered a championship.
The point being, major moves are made all the time in sports, sometimes by trade, sometimes by forced trade and sometimes through free agency. Yet Durant has become a popular target for those throwing peanuts from the sideline.
Green doesn’t understand it, perhaps because it’s both shortsighted and irrational.
“Nobody complains when somebody leaves Apple and goes to Google,” Green said. “Aren’t they in competition with each other? Nobody talks junk about the CEO that leaves Apple and goes to Google.
“As a basketball player, you’re a CEO of your business. You are a business, and Kevin Durant is a big business. He’s the CEO of that business. So, him going to play basketball for a different team . . . the CEO decided to leave where he was at and go somewhere else.
“But there are so many guys in this league that are so stupid, they don’t even think like that. They don’t think business-wise, when it happens every day in the world. But in basketball it’s a problem. Aren’t you competitive in your day job if you work for Apple? Don’t you want to outdo Google? What’s the difference on the basketball court? It’s your day job. You want to outdo the competitor.
"But if you feel like a situation is better for you – it’s better for your life, it’s better for your family life, it’s better for your happiness – ain’t nobody criticizing them for going to a different company.
“So why is he getting criticized so tough. I don’t understand it. And I’ll never understand it. So, that’s just me. And I’ll be willing to bet my entire salary that it ain’t many guys in this league that are more competitive than me.
“I gave you guys some good quotes, didn’t I? I want to see that blow up.”
Pro sports are, at bottom, about money and leverage. Durant’s contract opened the door to free agency, giving him leverage. He used it. He’s not the first and most definitely won’t be the last.
Though Durant would have collected a bigger paycheck if he stayed in OKC, his decision to come to the Warriors is a direct result of negotiating for the right to become a free agent. The whole point of becoming a free agent is to explore options, which every free agent does unless he’s dedicated to his previous team.
Durant was ready to walk. He did. And all those who turn on him for doing so have to ask themselves a simple question:
What would you do if you did your research and concluded your current employer was less attractive, for a variety of reasons, than another that recruited you?