“No matter where you get picked, it’s good to be an All-Star,” Kevin Durant noted as the media peppered him with queries regarding the draft process for the National Basketball Association’s annual spectacle. He was in a much better mood than that of the other day, when he pushed back at scribes for continually ruminating on his future even with free agency still five months out. Perhaps the relative ease with which the Warriors just won over the host Suns helped, as did the talk he had with head coach Steve Kerr. In any case, it looked to be a fitting start to a good weekend.
Durant was right, of course. Making the All-Star team is a privilege, and the order with which players get to be chosen by the team captains shouldn’t matter. That said, he is also being disingenuous. For the second straight year, leading vote getter LeBron James used the top pick on him, and he tipped his hand when, after being asked what he felt, he argued, “What else is he supposed to do?” There’s pride in being part of an elite group chosen by fans, scribes, and peers. And then there’s an altogether whole other level of satisfaction in knowing you’re first among equals.
Considering Durant’s stature and experience, it’s fair to wonder why he continues to be bothered by all the chatter around his offseason options. After all, the scrutiny comes with the territory, as he himself acknowledged when he once described the atmosphere around James as “toxic.” Significantly, the draft proceedings wound up playing into his sensitive nature; he couldn’t but have been pleased to see reigning Most Valuable Player James Harden go next to last among the starters, not to mention triple-double king Russell Westbrook get traded to a neophyte All-Star.
Indeed, Durant received validation, and in spades. He relished it, hence his sunny disposition. For the Warriors, the hope is that he’ll stay upbeat en route to yet another championship. He may not, though, not with all eyes on him as he presents just about the only uncertainty surrounding their campaign. Superstardom sucks in scrutiny. Speculation comes with the territory. Saturninity comes with him.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.