Kevin Durant knows what he is doing.
When the 6’10” sharp shooting 2013-14 NBA regular season MVP took his talents from America’s heartland in Oklahoma City to America’s techland in Golden State, Durant invited criticism on his decision making.
Plenty will question whether Kevin Durant became frustrated playing with the uniquely dressing, havoc causing, one-man fastbreaking Russell Westbrook and chose to leave as a result.
More importantly, many will question whether Kevin Durant is sullying his legacy going the LeBron James route by joining a rival team and fellow MVP Steph Curry.
Accompanying the questioning will be the familiar refrain about selfish athletes who are doing what a Magic, MJ, or Bird wouldn’t do in their day.
And that questioning would be preposterously naive.
Teams are not built on stacking scrubs.
Teams put themselves in situations that give them the best players to win championships.
Great teams in all sports don’t just come together.
Stacked teams have been part of sports since they were only traveling clubs.
In prior generations, teams stacked themselves with their own talent.
NBA has undergone a paradigm shift.
How stacked teams come together has evolved with players having more power than prior generations.
Players have obtained more power via advances in free agency, labor in their collective bargaining agreements, as well as the CBA allowing players to net a huge amount of dollars in lieu of a share of NBA’s Basketball Related Income (BRI).
After LeBron James bolted Cleveland for Miami in 2010, a major part of the 2011 NBA lockout was trying to ensure players didn’t exercise a similar power.
However, when the NBA signed a massive new broadcast rights deals in 2014 with Turner and Disney, the result was the NBA salary cap ballooning and the window for players opening to do exactly what James did.
Kevin Durant took adavantage of the system and leveraged himself to be on a stacked team.
Players are now individual entities.
It’s Kevin Durant, LLC now.
As such, as CEO, Durant’s job is to put his brand in the best possible position to win, bring in more revenue, and expand to new markets.
It’s ridiculous to expect an individual brand, a business entity, who are what players are today in terms of shoe contracts and other marketing deals, to sit back and let a team make decisions for that athlete’s brand.
Players are doing it for themselves.
Professional sports have swung the opposite direction in terms of the rights of their workers than most American industries.
Fifty years ago, nearly a third of the American workforce belonged to a union. Now, only one in ten belong to a union.
As entrepreneurial as a society has become with mobile app start-ups, viral videos, reality TV, and niche product offerings, most fans are against players having power.
They don’t see athletes as themselves. There is a disconnect due the the wealth they amass.
However, as specialized talent, NBA players are doing what most specialized talent does – create a market for that talent.
Jay-Z once rapped on the hip-hop song “U Don’t Know” the line “smarten up, open the market up.”
The market was open for Durant in this free agent frenzy.
And #35 smartened up and walked right into the open doors of Oracle Arena.
Exavier B. Pope I, Esq. is an award winning attorney, on air legal analyst, media personality, Fortune 500 speaker, content creator, writer, tastemaker, thought leader, and yogi. Mr. Pope is the host of #SuitUP Podcast and host of the Radical Inspiration Podcast distributed through his production company 528 Media Group. Mr. Pope has over 200+ appearances on air, including: international television on BBC and Al Jazeera English; national television on Fox News Channel, HLN, NBC Nightly News, Al Jazeera America, WGN Morning News, Fox Business Channel, and Huff Post Live; Top 3 Local Media Markets on Fox, CBS, and NBC; international radio on BBC Radio; national radio on ESPN Radio, Clear Channel Radio, NBC Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio; written and contributed digitally to The Hollywood Reporter, CNBC, Huffington Post, Jet, and Black Enterprise; and has appeared in other media outlets nationally and internationally. Mr. Pope is represented by top media and literary agency RLR Associates.
© 2016, Exavier B. Pope I, Esq., 528 Media Group.
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