A little perspective, please: Kevin Durant merely switched jerseys and ZIP codes.
Joey Chestnut ate 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
In terms of the most impressive Fourth of July feats, I’ll go with the guy who’s a walking, inhaling, bread-soaking gastric rupture waiting to happen.
Once the reality set in again Monday that the biggest news in sports is now broken by a retired baseball player, my first impulse was to study Twitter for the reaction to the NBA’s best available free agent, one of its greatest players, making like a member of the Joad family and fleeing Oklahoma for California.
Some actually proclaimed it the worst and most heartbreaking day in Oklahoma City history, which is 140 characters short of insane when you recall a certain downtown bombing in 1995.
That’s a tragedy.
Durant just made a basketball decision.
Fans and media alike will search for more intimate, deeper, comprehensive reasons why Durant chose to depart the Thunder after nine title-less seasons for a Golden State Warriors roster now being proclaimed the greatest collection of talent this side of a New Year’s Eve party at Hugh Hefner’s.
Las Vegas oddsmakers immediately posted updated numbers to win the 2017 NBA championship.
Golden State: 4/5.
Everybody else: Leicester City.
But no matter which opinion you hold about Durant— one that believes this a refreshing move from a superstar who will do anything he thinks will finally land him a championship or the side that ridicules him for joining the team he couldn’t beat to chase a ring — don’t draw many conclusions beyond this: The guy wants to win at a level he hasn’t and doesn’t believe the Thunder can do so.
Maybe it’s style, personnel, coaching. Whatever. He thinks his best chance to celebrate a title is in the Bay Area and now that rapper Lil B has officially lifted his Based God’s curse on Durant, well, who could argue?
Durant made it sound far more profound and emotional in an impressively written statement announcing his decision on The Players’ Tribune, a media platform founded by Derek Jeter that allows athletes a forum to tell their stories.
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant wrote. “But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
I can only hope as Durant typed away, Jeter summoned his inner Ben Bradlee and began screaming about being under pressure and that nothing was riding on this decision except the first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the next five NBA championships.
I don’t care that Durant tweeted the following in 2010 in response to other stars switching teams to pursue titles: Now everybody wanna play for the heat and the Lakers? Let’s go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!
That was six years ago, six seasons that passed with someone else kissing the Larry O’Brien Trophy and being crowned the NBA’s best. The more one falls short of his ultimate goal, the more perspective can change.
It’s true the league shifted Monday, perhaps not dramatically given the Warriors were already returning a team picked to win the title, but in a way that suggests Golden State can now position itself to deliver a truly historic era over the next several years.
We’ll see. Things happen. Egos and the groins of opposing centers get bruised. Injuries occur. At some point, someone is going to realize there is just one ball to go around and Boston’s record of eight straight titles will be safe and sound.
Durant isn’t selfish or disloyal for joining Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He did what so many others in countless professions do daily when holding the power to, in their minds, better a current work situation.
But because he’s a famous athlete who so many follow and adore and purchase his jersey (or, as we saw from some July 4 cookouts in Oklahoma, burn it), we somehow expect him to hold the same emotional attachment to a franchise as fans do.
Many greats have remained with one team their entire careers, but that certainly shouldn’t be, from any reasonable mind, an expected outcome for everyone.
Don’t make it bigger than it is. Durant just wants to win a championship, and if he shows the same heart and drive and stomach in the face of adversity as Chestnut did Monday when reclaiming the mustard yellow international belt at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on Coney Island, he probably will with the Warriors.
On the day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, this was his pursuit of happiness.
The kind only a ring can deliver.
Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney.