Kevin Durant kicks his dog. He steals lunch money from children on the playgrounds. He spits on women …
To hear the two-faced critics tell it, one would have thought Durant did all those things when he hitched his future to the Warriors the other day. TNT’s Charles Barkley was among the first to weigh in on the matter, naturally, when he said Durant jumped on the “gravy train” to “cheat” his way to an NBA title.
“We develop this thing where you keep telling these guys, ‘Hey man, if you don’t win a championship you’re a bum,’” Barkley told ESPN’s Mike & Mike. “I don’t feel like a bum.”
Charles Barkley is a bum.
As you may recall, he was the guy who cheated the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans with selfish play and boorish behavior three decades ago. The same bad guy who forced the front office to make an awful trade out of desperation, one from which the Sixers still haven’t recovered all these years later.
Barkley threw teammates under the bus. He lit into team management. He feuded with the media. Only hours before he was dealt to a Phoenix Suns team on the come, the big lug was acquitted of charges in a fight outside a Milwaukee bar, where he broke a heckler’s nose. This came two years after he spit on a female fan — accidentally, he claimed.
Let’s also not forget that Barkley later agreed to be traded to Houston, where he joined future Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon in a final attempt to cheat his way to, um, steal, er, win an elusive title. But he only succeeded in making the Rockets older, slower, fatter and more grumpy than they had been already.
But this isn’t about a washed-up 53-year-old who blew his chance for championship bling a long time ago. It’s about the 27-year-old Durant and his future.
Durant did what almost any sane person would have done in a similar situation. He made a career move that packed far more growth potential. His critics would jump at the chance to do the same. The standard shouldn’t be changed because Durant happens to be a world-famous athlete who’s ridiculously talented and wealthy.
Sure, if you believe in loyalty, the Durant decision stinks to high heaven. But c’mon, this is the US of A, 2016. Since when does that mean anything in society, let alone professional sports? So don’t blame Durant for the way he left Oklahoma City and its basketball team in a depressed state. Blame the team owners and players as a whole. They’re the ones who sold out to the flawed system that made them richer yet five years ago.
Now Durant is the latest player to make the most of the opportunity. And Charles Barkley should be the last bum to come down on him.
RAY-RAY TO THE BAY? Warriors general manager Bob Myers did well to acquire free agents Zaza Pachulia and David West on the cheap. At worst, they represent a slight downgrade from Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, the sacrificial lambs in the Durant bonanza, but they can’t be any more invisible in the postseason.
Now there’s talk that ancient Ray Allen may come out of retirement to join them. The Warriors reportedly are on his wish list, one that includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
When jump shooters begin to lose it, their legs lead the way. It remains to be see how much Allen has left in his after two years on the sidelines. The all-time leader in 3-pointers will turn 41 later this month.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say Allen can still stroke it for a few minutes a game. Can you imagine him, Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the same team at the same time? That’s the modern-day Mount Rushmore of distance shooters, for goshsakes.
Just wait until Reggie Miller and coach Steve Kerr join them …
RELIEF IN SIGHT? Well, at least we’ll know who to blame if the Giants blow this thing in the next few months. That became painfully obvious again against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night, when the bullpen lit a match to a 2-0 lead and deprived Madison Bumgarner of his 10th victory in the process.
There is no quick fix here. The farm system doesn’t offer a single candidate who deserves a closer look at this time. Manager Bruce Bochy can change a few roles, but they’re kinda like chairs on the Titanic.
The best course may be patience. In the two next weeks, the New York Yankees will decide whether to make stud pitchers Andrew Miller and/or Aroldis Chapman available before the trade deadline. Because of their killer schedule, the fourth-place Yankees are more likely to be sellers than buyers. That’s when the Giants need to step to the plate and swing for the fences. Because if they don’t, the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and/or Washington Nationals certainly will.
But something has to be done before long. Giants starters have logged more innings than any National League team, and Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto can’t be expected to throw 100-plus pitches game after game.
JUST SAYIN’: Ayesha Curry apologized to anyone offended by her remarks that NBA games were fixed. See, Stephen’s more candid half just wanted to tell the truth.
— If 34-year-old Dwayne Wade feels slighted by a two-year, $40-million contract offer, then where does Balls sign up?
— The Giants should be very nervous to have as many as a half-dozen Cubs start the All-Star Game, which determines home-field advantage in the World Series for some odd reason.
— Any time the Giants want to pitch around the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado and his career 1.003 OPS against them is fine here.
— The least the Athletics can do is stage a video tribute to Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist, their contributions to the All-Star Game.
— The Sharks don’t have a dependable backup goalie, but now that Martin Jones has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, what — general manager Doug Wilson worry?
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … James Reimer?
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