Yay! Kevin Durant’s going to be in a movie. This is going to be awesome. Great news.
OK, maybe we shouldn’t get excited just yet.
When I heard the news that Durant had signed on to star in a movie with a basketball subplot, I cringed a little bit. I’m not sure the general reaction to this news, but if I was cringing — I enjoy just about everything in the world — I have to think I’m not the only one.
Why did I react this way? Because it makes me a little nervous. Right now, we’re all about Kevin Durant. That’s a great thing. There are many worthy players to root for and support in this league, and Durant is at the top of the list. He’s ridiculously talented, unfailingly polite and as genuine as they come in the world of pro sports. He’s great for the league and the excitement and interest in Durant works for me.
When the media falls in love with a player, it’s fun. But when they decide to break up with that player, it’s always ugly. We build him up, place him on a pedestal that’s so precariously high, even the most levelheaded of professional athletes aren’t able to keep their balance forever. When they don’t, when they trip and stumble, that’s when we’re done with them and when it all starts to go downhill.
Of course, I don’t expect Durant to make the same moves that have come back to haunt LeBron James, but this does remind me of how people jumped on Dwight Howard when he hadn’t made the appropriate improvements to his game while he was making significant moves off the court. The harshest critics turned toward his non-basketball ventures and wondered if he wasn’t paying enough attention to his game and to getting better. I don’t see this happening with Durant because he’s been playing basketball all over the place and he’s been dominating at each of these stops, but I’d hate to see people judge him for wanting to expand outside of basketball a little.
Today’s professional athletes find themselves in a difficult spot with these things. They have to be on social media, they have to engage with fans and followers in a way never expected of them before, they have to sell their brand. Not taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them seems silly, but if they spread themselves too thin or if they don’t perform the way that is expected of them on the court, those opportunities are thrown back in their face.
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