MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 4, 2014

Durant’s week sheds an expanse of light

So Kevin Durant, by now, you’re either MVP material again or you’re, well, something in the vicinity of unreliable.

At face value, it does sound odd for someone to be deemed unreliable with four NBA scoring titles and one of two players in NBA history to score 25 points or more for 40 straight games in one season — joining His Airness in a very select crowd — to be thought of as unreliable.

But this headline was about your play in the majority of this series. The column under the headline explained it. Some just didn’t get that far into the page to know about it.

And in listening to your response to Oklahoma City TV sports anchor Dean Blevins’ question to you about the headline, you indicated that you understood that too, in its context. Even though, as you said, you don’t read newspapers.

Still, in these changing times, some do, and the reaction from some of your most ardent fans who do read papers chastised the big one to our west. They suggest — some more like demand — that to not support the state’s NBA franchise or its franchise player as a fan or a cheerleader is, as one comment put it, “hateful.”

I get that. We get it within the walls of this office too. One day, it could be exposing a kid on a game-changing play in a game, the next day it could be critical of a coach or an administrative decision in regard to a team or a program.

The daily newspaper isn’t the Thunder PR sheet, or an agent of the (insert the name) public school system.  Teams have their own broadcast crews who, paid by the team, can be limited as to the amount of criticism they speak. Professional and collegiate programs have their own media centers, and what they produce will project a “company viewpoint” which is grounded in selling tickets and making money and thus will always put the positive spin on everything. That’s soothing to faithful fans who treat the team as family and will stand up and defend family.

Keep in mind, though, that family should also deal with each other honestly and fairly, which means taking off the rose-colored glasses every now and then.

Independent of those is guys like us and the Oklahoman, where objectivity and fairness are strived for. And we don’t “hate” on any of the locals. Their success makes for fun writing. But half of sports is failing, in so much as success equals wins and failure losses.

Now we here wouldn’t go as far as to put a six-column photo of an area high school player under such a headline, but a game outcome can’t dodge the facts without losing objectivity. Does that come with some sting? Absolutely, and there’s a reason a high school athlete is in the spotlight a band member who misses a note in the halftime show isn’t.

Those who deal with that sting are nursing some of life’s bumps and bruises. Those can tear us down, or it can build our resolve.

At least in Game 6, Durant showed that resolve.

He also accepted the criticism.

If we’re really into athletes as role models, there’s an example of why maybe KD would be a reliable one.

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