Clyde Drexler to the Houston Rockets. Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers. Charles Barkley to the Phoenix Suns. Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics. Jason Kidd to the New Jersey Nets. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James to the Miami Heat. All of these personnel moves had something in common: Star players moved to a different team in a different city with the hope of winning a world championship. For some, it worked, and for others it did not. So why are so many people ripping Kevin Durant to shreds for doing what many before him have done?
“Well, what Durant did was different because…”
Whatever. Look, you can come up with all kinds of differences between Durant and all of the other players and claim what he did was uniquely bad. But outside of professional sports, people take different jobs in the labor market all the time and no one complains about it. Nobody would look askance at someone who leaves a part-time retail job for a full time office job with benefits and a 100% increase in his hourly pay rate.
If NBA teams (or pro sports teams generally) displayed loyalty to their players or city, perhaps one could make a more convincing argument. Does anyone remember when the Atlanta Hawks exiled Dominique Wilkins to the Los Angeles Clippers in the midst of a championship contending season because they thought they would do better with Danny Manning? We should not forget that the Oklahoma City Thunder abandoned the city of Seattle, where they played as the Supersonics. The Thunder permanently lost all right to complain about players leaving when they did that.
People, just chill out. It is not like NBA players have a choice of where they will work when they enter the league, thanks to the draft system. Thunder fans can be disappointed that Durant did not stay with them, and NBA fans generally can think the super-team in Golden State makes the NBA less fun to watch, but people have a right to work where they want to work. It is just a game.