It’s been three days since the 2015-2016 NBA season has died. And we’re not due a real NBA game for another three months. (Pre-season hoops is the bad, first movie playing at a drive-thru double-header; it’s seeing “The Human Centipede III” before “Creed.” So what do we have to look forward to? Well, we have the NBA Draft—but more importantly, we have the rumor mill, free agency and reckless speculation, or the “F5 Season” as some call. Just keep refreshing those browsers, folks. And hey, we’ve already had some off-season movement; Derrick Rose to The Big Apple, Jeff Teague to Nap Town and George Hill to a young, percolating Jazz team (I love this move for Utah). But what about the biggest rumor mill, free agent and reckless speculation fulcrum of the 2016 off-season: Kevin Durant.
Durant is this Summer’s Wendy Peffercorn. And it seems ubiquitously known about that the Miami Heat’s Pat Riley is going to get a meeting Durant; who wouldn’t want to be the Squints to Durant’s Peffercorn? Heck, KD might even know CPR (as if he needed to sweeten the pot).
A meeting with a superstar doesn’t exactly mean anything, especially when said superstars’s current team only missed the Finals by the skinniest skin of its teeth. And it’s not like KD has had an exceptional relationship with the Heat organization or the players. Actually, you might say it’s been subpar.
Remember the year of 2013? More specifically, the 2013-2014 NBA season, the year the Heat would get pantsed by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. That season. Here’s something you might not remember about that season: Late September, Kevin Durant, during an interview, went at Dwyane Wade, saying that James Harden should replace him in Sports Illustrated’s top-10 players of 2014. Is that some bias showing for Durant’s old teammate? Is it KD trying to undermine a player that bested his team in the 2012 NBA Finals? Who knows, maybe it’s both, but it’s one thing for sure—a kinda-somewhat true statement that Wade most definitely took offense to. He even put out a response on Instagram.
(The note below is written in two different hand-fonts; the first one, a cutesy old-modern-english scribe; the second font: a more regular, I’m assuming, Dwyane Wade font. I’m not saying Wade got an unnamed accomplice to pen the first part of this letter, but it couldn’t have been that hard to hand it to Gabrielle Union for some fancy lettering. Look at the “a” in the top portion of the note compared to the last four lines… Let’s just be glad it’s not in Comic Sans).
Durant’s rejoinder to Wade’s letter:
So, on top of the commercial Durant and Wade had together, where they’re literally giving each other night terrors, we have this—perhaps the biggest basketball beef of the 2010s (that’s sad). You know it’s serious when an NBA player remembers the date it went down, too. Wade jotted “9-24-13,” the day the feud was born. Not to mention that Wade’s 2012 Heat were the only team to oust Durant’s Thunder in its only Finals appearance. It’s safe to say Wade and Durant aren’t “you order of me”-level friends.
(Entering reckless speculation.)
There might be another reason that might drive Durant away from South Beach, one that is more subtle and conceivably imagined. When LeBron James completed his title hat trick on Sunday, he finally revealed his “secret motivation.” Reportedly, James detailed his secret postgame to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst:
"When I decided to leave Miami — I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that — but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career. ...
"And that s--- hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation.”
We presumably know who that unnamed person is that James is talking about. Pat Riley, The Puppeteer. I doesn’t matter who you are, you could be Pat Riley, it is not a good look to be throwing shade around at players. That unnamed person told LeBron the he was making the “biggest mistake” of his career [returning to Cleveland], while James—the man that brought Miami two rings—was only trying to become the mason of his dream. That’s not exactly attractive to a player that is going to have to buy-in to Riley’s system, knowing that Miami’s puppeteer wasn’t so gracious when sending James off. A boss that doesn’t endorse a good employee is no boss you want to work for. But Riley is an exception, as we’ve seen. If Riley won’t acquiesce to the best player since Michael Jordan, why would he bend for Kevin Durant?
James learned to love the structure that his Miami teams fostered. The rigidity helped when it came time to buckle down, but not everyone is wired like that. Most aren’t wired like that. Even James wanted out after awhile. No one knows what Durant wants but him. One thing I know is, humans crave comfortability. And Durant has homes in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, California.