“‘What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.’ ‘Come, then,’ returned the nephew gaily. ‘What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.'” It, indeed, does seem a bit odd that Ebeneezer Scrooge was fabulously wealthy, yet still rather bitter. Considering the All-American fantasy of fabulous riches quick, Charles Dickens was ahead of his time in warning readers that there’s more to happiness that just being rich. And in the NBA, the discontent of second-year Megastar Warrior Kevin Durant further suggests that some dreams are best left on the nightstand.
If a hungry motorist sees a bright blinking sign for a restaurant, it’s understandable for him to pull over. So, too, was the 73 win Dubs’ stop sign in the 2016 playoffs a strong signal to the Durant Express. After years of something always going wrong, it seemed a 3-1 Thunder lead would lead to a much needed breakthrough. No one can blame KD for feeling sick after losing three in a row. But all great things in life require working through failure. It would be very odd to go wild over something mindlessly easy. Examples would be Durant successfully tying his shoes, or flipping one’s bat after drawing ball one.
Feelings of accomplishment follow difficult feats, and rightfully so. But in America today, fans always forgive athletes for bailing out of a listing ship. College stars frequently transfer or jump early to the pros. Coaches’ eyes light up after a perceived step up the stairwell of success. So it was not too surprising that KD hitched a ride as pilot on the Warrior jet. So far, everything’s gone as planned. And that’s precisely the problem.
Human are very, very bad at predicting the future. Even professional mediums are routinely on record for whiffing on supposed revelations. Yet even a foresight fraud could have seen a stacked Golden State team cruising to the 2017 title, and not missing a beat this year. Yet KD seems to be tiring of the tune. He has picked up eight technicals-fourth in the league. Despite playing very well on Christmas, he even pulled a Scrooge with a mean-spirited comment directed at an official. What could be wrong in paradise?
The crux of the problem is the red versus blue poison of American political theater. There must be a villain to organize against, and the press is all too willing to invent one if need be. But the Warriors have already beaten all legitimate challengers. It’s like a grandmaster who wants to play past checkmate. Durant has bested all comers, so his competitive drive is now a house divided against itself. One plays to win the game, it is said of professional sports. But if it’s a one-on-none fast break to win every game, what is left to play for?
In A Christmas Carol, divine intervention turns Scrooge into a Saint overnight. But for KD, a return to a more focused state must come from removing specters, not engaging them. The hoopla of wins and rings needs be filtered and replaced with a commitment to sound play and sure form. Otherwise, Durant will end up like Jacob Marley: a man who claimed to have everything, but in the ledger of happiness, finished dead broke.