Tag:Kevin Durant
Posted on: November 16, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 3:23 pm

For players, it's become too emotional

Posted by Royce Young

When Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and 60 some-odd players stood behind a podium Monday afternoon after a players' meeting, most expected them to announce they'd be putting the league's proposal to a vote. Or at least, announce they're making a counter.

But that didn't happen. Instead, it was doomsday.

I think you, probably like me, were left wondering one thing: Why? What are the players thinking? The chances of them actually winning a lawsuit are slim. The chances of them recouping their losses in a new collective bargaining agreement are probably even slimmer. And yet instead of pushing forward and trying to push the pressure back on the league and owners to accept their revised deal, they decided to blow it up. They didn't even try and mask it. During their press conference they even said that. They wanted to completely detonate the current negotiations.

Again: Why?

Because players are emotional. This isn't a negotiation anymore. It's a fight. The owners have always tried to approach this as a business deal and the players met them on that -- until now. Consider this quote from Kevin Durant over the weekend:

“I know we get paid handsomely but we deserve to fight for something that’s right,” he told HoopsWorld. “We feel that they’re trying to strong-arm us and back us into a corner just to accept the deal. Of course they’re going to bluff and show the fans, try to put the fans against us like they’re the good guys and we’re the bad guys.

“I think getting what you deserve and fighting for something you believe is right is something all the players really care about,” he continued.  “Of course we enjoy the fans, we like the fans that come and support us.  They’re the reason why we’re playing this game, the reason why we continue to play this game but at some point you have to fight for what’s right and we can’t get bullied.”

That, says it all. In a game setting, if Nene throws a shoulder into Kendrick Perkins, Perkins is not only going to shove him back, but Durant and the rest of the team is going to back up their teammate. It's just their nature. That's what's happening here. David Stern just gave Derek Fisher an elbow. And here come his teammates.

Billy Hunter said on a podcast that this has become a "moral" issue for the players. At the time, it just seemed like talk to try and scare the league. But clearly it's not. This is an emotional thing. And players are extremely emotional. They live off it. It's what drives them. They're competitive, emotional and passionate. Prideful.

So why would we expect anything less from them now, especially after they were backed into a corner by David Stern's ultimatum? The players wanted to stand and fight instead of just taking their medicine from the rich guys running the league.

I think Jerry Stackhouse said it well while ripping Derek Fisher. "Players are emotional. Players get emotional," he said. "So no, I don't necessarily, particularly want Derek Fisher or any of the executive committee negotiating a contract for me."

I mean, Hunter actually called the hard salary cap a "blood issue," meaning, I guess, that the players would rather die than give in to that. That's what the owners are negotiating against. It's nothing really all that new to them as they've haggled over contracts and extensions with players for years, but now the players are collectively fighting. At least that's the appearance.

I understand taking a stand for what you think is right. A tip of the cap to that. But this isn't a fight against poverty or injustice to children or something. This is about business. A $4 billion one, in fact. One in which the employees are paid more than $5 million per year annually on average.

At some point, the players are going to have to approach it that way. I'm all for doing what you think is right. If the players were being greedy, they would've just accepted this deal, cashed their paychecks and forgot all about it. But instead, they're sacrificing for future generations of players. They're taking a hit not for themselves necessarily, but to one, set a new precedent that says the players won't be bullied and two, give the future players of the NBA a decent system to play in.

But this is a business decision. And sometimes, looking it as a moral dilemma isn't what's wise. Because in the end, players typically end up getting screwed in these situations. It's a bad idea to operate in this atmosphere running on emotion. You have to always keep your head and make sure every move makes sense not just in terms of saving face, but also actual dollars and cents. You can't let pride interrupt what's wise. That's a challenge every busisnessperson has to face on a daily basis.

This court battle is exactly what David Stern called it: It's a tactic. Nothing more. The players want a deal. The owners want a deal. Nobody wants to go to court and actually sue for damages. That's not the plan here, though if both sides remain stubborn, it will be. What both sides want is to get back to playing basketball. It's just all about playing cards right now and throwing out bets that hopefully force the other side to give a little. They very well may have pushed all-in there and could lose every chip they have, but they're not going to fold. They're going to go down in a blaze.

Why didn't the players just take the deal and move on? It's the best deal they'll probably get and despite it not being fair one bit, it might not matter. The reason is because that's not how they're bred. That's not what's in them. They aren't just going to give up. You back a professional athlete into a corner and tell him he has to lose and he's going to fight back. It's like Walter White in Breaking Bad. The players are trying to tell the league, "I am the one who knocks." It's all about grabbing the upper hand.

Don't wonder why the players didn't just take the NBA's offer. Because the reason should be obvious. It's just not what they do.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 10:01 am

Kevin Durant would vote no on new proposal

Posted by Royce Young

The players haven't responded all that positively to the league's newest proposal. It's basically been met with the type of reaction a 3-year-old has when mom tries to get him to eat his veggies.


The players are going to tweak it though and take a vote on that. Because the current one is just no good. One of the most vocal and visible players during the lockout has been Kevin Durant and he reaffirmed that to Yahoo! Sports.

“I know it’s not a good one,” Durant said of the proposal. “It’s not the one that we want. …If it’s not a good deal, I don’t see why we should take it, especially this late.”

Here's a reason: Because the season could be lost if you don't. I'm not advocating that you do take it nor am I saying that you shouldn't, but reality is what it is. Don't take this new proposal and you're almost certainly looking at the league's "reset" offer which is something the players never would accept.

Durant's not alone. Like so many other players, the new offer doesn't come close to bridging the gap the players wanted. After dropping to a 50/50 split, I think the players thought the league would concede some of the system issues. It has, but not as much as the players would've liked. So in order to get to where a deal could be made, this new offer has to be better. Because Durant is one of many that feels this way.

Which is why the tweaked proposal could be important. If the players can keep it within reason, they could put the pressure back on the owners. They'll be taking them an offer that has their stamp of approval meaning that it's decision time. That's what the players have in their hands from the league. Now the players are looking to put one right back in the owners' hands.

If that fails, it could all fall apart. And as Durant said, he will finally get serious about playing overseas. He said he's weighing offers from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Valencia in Spain and BBC Bayreuth in Germany. Anything Durant would sign would provide him with an NBA opt-out though.

“I’m right on the fence with playing overseas and I’m about to jump over,” Durant told Yahoo!.

Durant said he's not necessarily a fan of decertification. Yet. But a lot of players are and if the new offer doesn't work, that's the road everyone will prepare to walk down. It'll get ugly and it'll get worse before it gets better.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 7, 2011 8:29 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 9:58 pm

Frustrated players circle Wednesday on calendar

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Basketball games are supposed to provide both joy and despair, but usually there’s no difficulty in delineating: Just look at the final score and take a glance at both benches. The body language and facial expressions will tell a familiar story.

Things weren’t so cut-and-dry at the University of Portland on Sunday night, and not just because the college’s Chiles Center was playing host to a charity game in which tears wouldn’t be shed by the winners or losers because the result had no consequence.  Instead, every player present -- from 8-figure per year stars to unrestricted free agents, from rookie contract youngsters to a D-Leaguer who has never played a minute in the NBA -- carried both joy and despair.

That’s what happens when a for-the-fans charity game sells out, packing thousands of die-hards into a college arena, with an ongoing labor impasse lurking like a thundercloud over the entire proceedings, threatening to wipe out the entire 2011-2012 NBA season and make this charity game the first time, and the last time, that Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jamal Crawford and others take the court in a city obsessed with professional basketball.

Sunday’s game came just 24 hours after NBA commissioner David Stern delivered a nationally-televised ultimatum to the NBA's players: Take the league’s offer, which isn’t particularly favorable, by Wednesday or prepare to immediately absorb the shock of a significantly worse offer. This, after rumors swirled last week of infighting among the National Basketball Players Association’s executive staff and reports surfaced about agents agitating in hopes of decertifying the union. The game itself went off without a hitch, fans left overwhelmingly happy, but the players struck a somber, frustrated tone as they took the court for warm-ups.

“It’s sickening,” said Durant, who is coming off of his rookie deal and set to earn $13.6 million in 2011-2012. “It’s sickening. Us players have sacrificed, gave up money, doing what we have to do. Now it’s on the owners. At this point it’s starting to get bad. We’ve done our thing. They’re trying to pressure us, back us into a corner and take a deal that’s not fair to us.”

Durant, the league’s scoring champion with guaranteed money coming to him from the Oklahoma City Thunder through 2015-2016, had more license for candor than anyone else in attendance. You didn't have too read too far between the lines, though, to sense a shared frustration among his peers.

“It sucks,” said Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who was signed to a 5-year, full-midlevel deal in the summer of 2010. “It sucks. We’re in a bad position, the owners are in a bad position, the fans are in a worse position. Everybody wants to play basketball.”

So does that mean he is ready to vote on the league’s offer?

“I want to play basketball,” Matthews repeated, before admitting that he was dodging the question. “[I know] that’s not an answer, that’s just what I want to do.”

He later apologized directly to NBA fans.

"We are really, really sorry that there’s not an NBA season going on right now," Matthews, who stripped off his jersey after the game and gave it to a fan, said. "We want to [play]. We want it more than you guys do. We know that the NBA wouldn’t be the NBA without its fans. Just stick with us because we want this just as bad as anybody." 

31-year-old free agent guard Jamal Crawford, who could be in line for the last major pay day of his career,  wouldn’t say whether he was ready to vote or not but did say he felt that rumors of an NBPA leadership rift between executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher were off-base.

“I don't believe that,” Crawford said. “I'm not in every meeting but I don't believe that from what I've seen. This is my third [charity] game and everybody I've talked to is on the same page. I think [Derek] is doing a great job. He goes in there trying to negotiate in good faith and trying to get us the best deal.”

Crawford also wouldn’t lean one way or the other on the latest hot topic, the decertification of the union which could threaten to blow up the entire 2011-2012 season and take the labor fight to the courts, but Blazers guard Raymond Felton, who is entering the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2012, said it's an option that should be considered.

“No question [decertification should be a topic of conversation],” Felton said. “If something doesn’t get done, that’s something we definitely need to sit down and talk about.”

Felton agreed with Crawford that the reported NBPA rifts were a product of the slow pace of negotiations.

“When things aren’t getting done, you’re going to hear a lot of stuff,” he said. “All the guys that I’ve talked to, everyone just wants us to get the best deal.”

Free agent big man Jeff Pendergraph, now fully recovered after missing all of 2010-2011 due to a season-ending knee injury, said the reported rifts might be explained by the looming possibility of further game cancellations.

“It’s getting to be crunch time, people are getting nervous,” Pendergraph said. ”Everything is going to start coming up. Whenever there’s head-butting [in negotiations] there will be friction like this.”

"I think everybody is anxious to play,” added second-year Blazers forward Chris Johnson, a former D-League call-up, set to earn the minimum in 2011-2012. “Everybody wants to play, it’s unfortunate what’s going on… Hopefully they get a deal done. I feel like Derek Fisher and Billy are doing things for more than themselves, they are doing something for the future. That’s why I appreciate what they are doing."

Somewhat ironically, the only player who had absolutely nothing to say on the lockout subject was Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake.  It was reported by multiple outlets on Monday that Blake is pushing hard for a vote on the NBA’s current deal.

“I have no comments on that,” Blake, who signed a 4-year, $16 million deal last summer, said when asked a lockout question on Sunday.

“Nothing?” the reporter replied.

“I have no comments on that,” Blake repeated flatly.

With tip off of the charity game approaching, Durant sighed deeply when asked whether he knew when the lockout might finally be resolved.

“I wish I could tell you,” he said glumly. “As a union, we gave [up] that money, we went down on the BRI. We have a few system issues we’re trying to work out but it’s like [the owners are] not helping us at all.”

Crawford, as cool a player you’ll ever find with the ball in his hands, made it clear that he is starting to feel Stern’s deadline pressure.

“They put it out there,” he said. “It's going to be Wednesday, or whatever goes after that.”

Posted on: November 5, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:05 pm

The Biggest Game of the Night We're Missing: 11.5

Posted by Ben Golliverdurant-dirk

Saturday's NBA showcase event would have been a rematch of the Western Conference Finals: the defending champion Dallas Mavericks to a potential budding dynasty in the Oklahoma City Thunder

The major storylines that dominated an exciting but brief 5-game series back in May would remain. Could Kevin Durant shake free of Dallas' team defense and get back to his super-efficient scoring ways? Could Russell Westbrook keep things together down the stretch so as to maximize his supreme physical advantages? Could anyone concoct a strategy that would effectively slown down Dirk Nowitzki?

The big questions have to do with how many defections Big D would be dealing with? Would center Tyson Chandler, one of the most coveted free agents on this year's market, cash in to play elsewhere or would owner Mark Cuban pay up to keep him. Ditto for teeny-tiny J.J. Barea and trash-talker in chief DeShawn Stevenson. Then, there's Caron Bulter, who missed the entire playoff chase due to a knee injury, and would play a major role in shrinking the talent gap on the perimeter against the Thunder. Retaining him will also likely cost a pretty penny.

Oklahoma City, on the other hand, got most of its work done prior to free agency. Every key member of their rotation would be returning, no questions asked, and the star players fit well enough together that return trips to the Western Conference Finals seem almost inevitable. If Oklahoma City is the future, this game would boil down to serving as a first look at whether Dallas is still the present, or if their reign atop the West is already in the past.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:26 pm

LeBron, Durant explain 'Basketball Never Stops'

Posted by Ben Golliver

You wouldn't think a self-evident catch-phrase like Nike's "Basketball Never Stops" would require further explanation, but that didn't stop the shoe giant from releasing a companion piece to its recent ad starring LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Amar'e Stoudemire.

In the companion video, James, Durant, Nowitzki and others explain what the phrase "Basketball Never Stops" -- an obvious nod to the ongoing NBA lockout -- means to them.

"No matter where you're at, no matter what time of the day, you can always have a love for the game, and you can always play the game," James explains. "You could be playing inside your house with your loved ones or at a rec league with kids, or playing at a rec league with 40-and-over guys, it doesn't matter. The game of basketball never stops no matter what's going on in the world because people love the game that much."

"No matter if it's the offseason, vacation, holiday, always find a way to get in the gym and get better," Durant adds. "No matter if you're just working out by yourself or playing pickup the game never stops, no matter what you're doing. That's the type of approach I try to have."

Nowitzki chimes in: "I'm 33 years old now, and I'm still in the gym in the summer, working out, trying to get better, trying out certain moves."

And Stoudemire polishes it off. "You're always thinking about basketball," he says. "It's something that you sleep, you dream, when you're awake, you play, you think about it."

So, as it turns out, "Basketball Never Stops" pretty much means that basketball never stops. Now you know.

Here's the video courtesy of YouTube user NikeBasketball.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 1:08 pm

Video: LeBron vs. Kobe 1-on-1. Who you got?

By Matt Moore

The L.A. Times decided to ask a popular and interesting question to a collection of NBA players, and the responses were at once not suprising, and kind of intriguing. 


Some notes:

  • Matt Barnes' "Don't nobody lose to Kobe one-on-one" should be entered into the great quotes of our time. 
  • Durant's modesty has no fatigue. Mentions LeBron, Kobe, and Wade, is asked about his place, and he says he's "nowhere near those guys." It's that comment you love to hear from a superstar, and you rarely get. 
  • Wall's comments about LeBron were particularly interesting. Wall's close with LeBron, has been since high school. So for him to essentially challenge LeBron to play in the post more is pretty interesting. It's also pretty accurate. I think Bryant would kill him from the high post and off the dribble with pull-ups, but if James bodied and bullied him low, he could keep it close for pretty much forever. 
  • Trevor Ariza nails it: "I don't know who'd win, but I'd pay to watch it." 
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 12:21 pm

Video: LeBron James alone and violent

By Matt Moore

The Nike "Basketball Never Stops" spots are so good, we're pretty much going to keep running them. Why? Because it's almost like an NBA team's introduction video, and because it shows the stars doing basketball things, which we're pretty starved for at this point on what would have been opening night in the NBA. 

The new spot is a solo one for LeBron James, with Kevin Durant's expected later in the month. In the spot, James is on a rooftop, with the spotlight from the other video with him, KD, and Dirk. He goes through his workout as shots are interlaced of the city shutting down for then night while James keeps working. This of course requires a high degree of reality suspension since we're all patently aware of how much James likes to party. But whatever, it's a good spot with a good intent.

Also, the violence with which James dunks is still awe-inspiring. Must not have been the fourth quarter of his workout. Yes, I made the obligatory fourth-quarter joke. If the NBA's not going to give us games, I'm going to pander. It's my pander pout.  

Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 9:38 am

Video: Kevin Durant goes to OSU for flag football

By Matt Moore

We told you late last night that Kevin Durant went out with some random folks and played flag football on the Oklahoma State campus. Which is kind of the most awesome thing ever. Now we have video of how the entire thing went down. Durant hit Twitter to say he was bored. A student said he needed a deep threat.

Durant asked "Can I play?"

The student asked "Can you catch?"

And Durant came. He saw. He conquered. Here's video talking to the student with more clips of Durant dominating. Check out the first sack-dodge and long bomb. 

"Probably the coolest moment of my life."

No Nike setup. No corporates sponsorship. Durant was bored, so he hung out with some folks and played flag football. When people say he's the best personality in the NBA, this is what they're talking about. 

Just so we're clear on this. We have no NBA games on opening night. And Kevin Durant is just hanging with some students playing flag football. You watching this, Clay Bennett? Do you see what you're missing? Do you?

/cries self to sleep 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com