A few days ago, the sports world erupted with praise for the Western Conference’s Golden State Warriors overcoming the Cleveland Cavaliers to become world champions. Once again, they ousted the LeBron-driven Cavs who fell shy of their quest for a second consecutive title. What makes this year sweeter is the addition the Warriors made in the off-season. The front office of Golden State aggressively recruited Kevin Durant from Oklahoma after blowing a three to one lead in last year’s NBA finals. That devastating loss prompted money to be allocated for another superstar player.
Durant began his NBA career when the Oklahoma City Thunder were located in Seattle. Under the name “Seattle SuperSonics,” Durant was selected second overall in the 2007 Draft. It was after his rookie season in Seattle that the team relocated to Oklahoma and set their sights on rebuilding around this basketball freak of nature. At 6’9” and boasting a wingspan of 7’0, Durant is practically “unguardable.” He has a low post game. He has an outside jumper. He certainly has the dunks. Nevertheless, what he lacked was the coveted hardware of a champion. The ring!
Kevin is no stranger to post-season heroics. When the Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2012 against LeBron and the Miami Heat, many hoped for the budding star to find his stride and finally cross the hurdle. Durant and his faithful teammate Russell Westbrook put on a show, only to miss the mark. The Heat was just too much for them. This is where the frustration lies for Durant. He has been chasing that “ring” since he stepped onto the court. He has heard the accolades. He has won numerous awards. He has even played on an Olympic Gold medal team. These all, however, seem like concession prizes for a runner-up. The NBA is quick to hold their praise until a player has ascended to the heights of championships.
What does this have to do with relationships, women, and wedding rings? Great question and I am so glad you asked. Kevin Durant was in a seemingly toxic relationship with team co-star Westbrook. For five seasons they razzle dazzled the world with their stats. Yet at the end of each season, they watched others receive the ring they wished was theirs. Like so many women who started a relationship with the ideal of marriage and year after year, they sit on the outside without a ring. They have attended plenty of weddings. They have expressed to their partner how important it was. Nothing. Crickets. Empty promises.
This is the most difficult part of coaching in the area of relationships. People genuinely struggle with discerning the timing of a relationship. Should they cut the person off and begin to move on? Or do they buckle down and commit to being too stubborn to walk away? Tough questions for sure. The answer is within and I believe strongly that Durant, in his own way gives us a strategy as well as the signs to look for.
- If you have to question their commitment or loyalty, it is time to move on: An NBA season typically runs from late October until the middle of April. That is about 167 days or 82 games. If you factor in the playoffs, it is longer. Durant and Westbrook invested over 835 days playing together without a ring. Durant did what most are afraid to do… that is, admit it is time to move on. How many more years will you put into a relationship that is on life support? At some point, you have to be proactive and mature enough to acknowledge this thing is dead and I need to bury it to step into my next “big thing.”
- Follow your heart but take your brain with you: Just because Durant was looking to leave OKC, he was not going to allow himself to be blinded by pressure and make a bad decision. Some walk away from a bad relationship only to fall into something worse because they are anxious. Not wanting to be alone is never enough reason to jump into a bad situation. Durant was not making up facts about what he wished OKC was like. Nor was he delusional about his expectations. He negotiated with Golden State from a place of knowing what he was capable of and what he wanted in the future.
- Find the place where you thrive: We could never say Durant did not flourish and thrive in Oklahoma. He won a couple of scoring titles and a league MVP, mostly because he played alongside Westbrook. However, if you watch their last few games together there was something different. The world saw what Kevin was feeling inside. The thrill was gone! Instead of hoping the coach, Westbrook or the front office of OKC would make a change; Durant put his destiny into his own hands and made the move. Many hated him for it, but it was this move, according to the MVP, that restored his passion for the game.
Earlier this week the Warriors were celebrated along the streets of Oakland for bringing the trophy back to the Bay. Confetti littered the streets and thousands poured into downtown to cheer. Atop one of the team buses, Durant was visibly overwhelmed with emotion. Both the speech Durant gave when he was crowned the 2017 NBA Finals MVP and the one rendered in front of Warriors’ fans during the parade were short and sweet. He simply stated:
Winning with the Golden State organization means the world to me.
Durant was expressing that the level of competition and excellence he displayed this season is why he is hopeful of winning more championships with them. We can learn from Durant if we pay attention. When you see the signs that it is time to move on, you do not continue on ignoring the obvious. Make up your mind that it may not be popular with most, but it is the decision I must make. As the quote goes:
My life changed when I stopped feeling guilty for doing what was right for me.
The MVP endured much criticism for doing what he felt would lead him to a land that offered the greatest potential for his personal growth and contribution. Not even a year after Durant announced his decision to leave his comfort zone he fulfilled his dream to win an NBA Championship. K.D. took a risk and reaped the reward. He deserves much respect for having the courage to let go of what was not working and chase his dream to obtain a ring.
Opinion by Early Jackson
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)
Early L. Jackson is profoundly recognized as a Social Activist of Empowerment and Curator of Inspiration who brings balance, skill, and relevance to people and organizations around the country.
Bleacher Report: Kevin Durant Announces Decision to Join Golden State Warriors
Chicago Tribune: Kevin Durant deserves respect — not criticism — for chasing NBA championship ring
Book: The Modern Princess: A 21st Century Guide to Fairy Tale Relationships
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