Jun 15, 2012, 11:20 AM EDT
Kevin Durant is one of the NBA’s biggest, most marketable stars. He’s already landing national commercials — “Doodle jump? Man, that’s messed up.” — has a big Nike deal and this summer will star in what promises to be a delightfully awful movie “Thunderstruck.” All at age 23.
“Sometimes it’s where you’re at,” Wade said at practice on Wednesday. “If he was in Los Angeles, Chicago, somewhere, it would be a little different. Being in Oklahoma kind of dims his light a little bit, not him on the basketball court but him off the court.”
Oklahomans are going to take offense to this, I think Wade sees it purely as a business situation.
Two thoughts here.
First, in Durant’s case I disagree with Wade. For 99 percent of the players in the NBA where you live does impact your ability to get endorsements and have opportunities off the court. Deron Williams killed it in Utah for years on a pretty good team, but he goes to the Nets who are terrible, lives in New York and suddenly he’s landing a Red Bull deal.
But for a handful of superstars — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and now Durant — they are international icons and they will get their deals and opportunities regardless of where they choose to play. LeBron was getting just as much (if not more) in Cleveland than in Miami. The NBA is a star-driven league and if the star is big enough the opportunities will gravitate toward them regardless of market. That’s only a handful of guys, but Durant is stepping onto that level now.
Second, not every NBA star is suited to playing in a small market, but Durant is one. He is, by personality, suited to that lifestyle in a way that Tim Duncan was but Dwyane Wade really is not. I don’t mean that as a knock on either — I live in a big city and can’t imagine living anywhere else, but some of my best friends I grew up with wanted out of here for a slower-paced life. It’s not wrong or right, it’s a preference.
Durant seems to genuinely love playing and living in OKC. We’re a long, long way from knowing if he will spend his entire career there but he has the demeanor that would work in that environment, so if it is what he wants it’s what he should do.