Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has experienced firsthand how fans can be so passionate and toxic. After all, he's one of the most popular NBA stars today, partly because of his sheer excellence on the court and his controversial career move in 2016. Durant related such experiences to the never-ending GOAT debate. In his view, the absence of social technologies in the 90s helped propel Michael Jordan to the forefront of these conversations.
Shrouded in mystery
Durant shared his thoughts on social media in relation to NBA players and celebrity culture in general. In his view, fans nowadays have so much access to players' lives and thoughts. There's no room for reflection as almost everything is out there. This is contrary to the earlier days when teams and their players were shrouded in mystery. Analysts weren't feeding their thoughts into fans' brains. Basketball diehards were simply enjoying the game for what it is. The nefarious thoughts they harbored stayed within their circles or lodged deep inside them.
"Everything is so accessible now. Michael Jordan was such a mystery back then. You couldn't just open your phone and scroll through his whole life on Instagram or see his thoughts on Twitter. There's so much coverage on us as players right now. That takes away some of that mystery, that lore that comes along. We're so easy to touch and we get taken for granted for a while. So MJ dipped in and out of circles, rarely did interviews, kept to himself. I think that helped towards him just being this god-like figure in our game," Durant said, per The ETCs with Kevin Durant.
Durant has a good point. We can rewatch games from Jordan's time, but we can never experience the milieu. All we hear now is how Jordan is the greatest thing that ever happened to basketball. Criticisms about his game and his lifestyle have been drowned out. All that's left is how Jordan and the Chicago Bulls reigned supreme in the 90s.
The two-time NBA Champion is indeed speaking from his own experience. The general view is that Durant is one of the greatest of the sport. However, he may never be included in the GOAT debates mainly because he decided to join the 73-win Golden State Warriors team in 2016. The event turned into a major fiasco, with analysts and fans calling it the weakest move NBA superstar could make. It's been discussed so much that it's already embedded in people's minds.
People have forgotten how difficult it is to win an NBA Championship. There's a good amount of Hall of Famers who never won a title. And it's not as if Durant, upon donning the Warriors jersey, cruised his way to two championship rings. There's no doubt it was an easier path. But there were a lot of adjustments on his part, not to mention the tension between him and his teammates.
Durant will probably be slammed for his unorthodox take on Jordan and the GOAT debates. People will once again bring up how he took his talents to the Bay Area and how he ran away from the grind. This will do nothing but prove Durant's point that almost everyone has a hand in shaping a player's narrative. It's the people who decide who's truly the greatest of the sport. And people will forever have their own biases, making these conversations either pointless or intriguing.