By now, most of you have heard that Kevin Durant, one of the top 5 professional basketball players in the world, made the decision over the 4th of July to leave his current team (Oklahoma City) and join what's widely regarded to be the most talented team in the NBA (the Golden State Warriors).
Reactions to the Durant news on the 4th were quick - and at times harsh. At issue is whether Durant is running from a challenge (getting OKC to its first title) or simply exercising his collectively bargained right to take his talents elsewhere - something the rest of us take for granted. What you believe is directly related to your world view on talent and what you think athletes owe the franchises they play for and the cities those franchises represent.
When we're critical of these types of sports moves, we forget how much freedom we have as normal employees to switch companies. In fact, Durant's a lot like us. Consider the following truths related to the Durant move:
--He had spent 9 years with the same organization. I'm a big believer that type of tenure can cause talent to wonder what's on the other side of the fence. Durant clearly wondered that, and now he's gone - taking less money in the process.
--Durant reached for the cool brand that exists today. The Warriors are the equivalent of the company in your city that built a slide in its lobby that you hate to recruit against. Damn - who can compete against a slide? You know it's not real, yet you bleed as the second and third employee chooses to go there. The Warriors are the cool brand, and Durant's 54M dollar contract means he can even get a nice studio apartment near work in the Bay area. That's nice.
--Durant was working with a crazy person. You've lost employees for the same reason. Management couldn't confront the crazy person, so you left the employees to figure it out on their own. And you lost some peeps because of that. OKC made the same choice, and Durant left with that at least a contributing factor. BTW, I'm ALL IN on the crazy kid who remains at OKC.
--Durant, like any employees that choose to leave you, doesn't have perfect clarity on the team he's walking into. What's his role? He's not sure. The organization that signed him up has less room to put talent around him as a result of the cost of signing him. But the slide was in the lobby, they didn't seem to have crazy people around (surprise, KD!), so he went for it.
For the employees that leave you, the grass is always greener. Karma has a way of figuring it out. For KD, that means he has to win a title next year. For the average employee, that means they're still at the new company 2-3 years from now.
We are all Kevin Durant. We're just don't look like the Grim Reaper with the ability to knock down a three.