September 8, 2017— The National Basketball Association, also known as the NBA, has grown widely in popularity over the years. From Steph Curry to Lebron James, many athletes are becoming more popular by the day, and getting paid millions in the process. This past summer Stephen Curry signed one the biggest contracts in the NBA, receiving a five year 201 million max deal according to cbssports.com. Many athletes of this generation are receiving big pay days, but at what expense? Kevin Durant, One of the league’s biggest stars, was the center of much of the controversy last summer. He was a free agent and everyone expected him to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team who had drafted him and given him the opportunity to become the player he is today. Many teams were courting him, but no one really expected him to change teams, especially after making it to the conference finals that same year. Kevin Durant shook up the sports world when he decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors, the team that had just eliminated him from the playoffs that same year. Everyone had an opinion about his decision, but it would prove to be the best decision he had ever made thus far. This past NBA season Kevin Durant, won an NBA championship, Finals MVP (most valuable player), Olympics gold medal, and he placed himself in the conversation with Lebron James, the league’s most dominant player today. In one season he went from being the most hated player in the NBA to the second best player in the world all because he took control of his life and decided to do what was best for him.
While Kevin Durant may have received criticism for leaving his former organization, many players do not have that choice. A few weeks ago Kyrie Irving, an all star point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, made it very clear that he wanted to request a trade out of Cleveland. The Cavaliers eventually traded him to Boston and received all star point guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and a few other players for him. As soon as media and fans got news of the trade many were upset. Fans started burning Boston Celtics jerseys and going to social media to express their discontent with the trade. Many Cavaliers fans also burned Kyrie Irving jerseys as a way to express their anger and disappointment. Although Irving requested a trade out of Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas had no say so in that matter. He was just an innocent bystander who was happy where he was, but was uprooted and traded which quickly reminded him that even though this is something he loves to do, it’s still a business. At the end of the day these players don’t play for free and every decision that is made is never personal, but strictly business.
It is the business mindset that the players have that allow them to market themselves, which puts them in the position to be able to cash in on seven figure endorsements and other contracts outside of them playing ball. Some players even take pay cuts in order to help their team. For instance, Kevin Durant took less money that he was offered this summer in order to keep the core of the Warriors together. Although some may consider that a personal move, I still look at it as business. He has to put himself in the best situation possible in order to keep winning, which will result in bigger pay days. Players have decided to take their destiny back into their own hands, just as the Owners, General Managers, and other top executives have been doing for years. Fans are growing increasingly upset because instead of waiting on a team to cut, trade, or just simply do away with them, they are speaking up and doing what makes them happy. Although many fans may not like the decisions a player makes by changing teams, it is no different than a player being traded. Carmelo Anthony has a no trade clause in his contracts but if he decides to leave the New York Knicks, he does so willingly. I think that is a hell of a way to go, how could anyone be mad at that?