2019 GS Warriors – The Human Side of Our Beloved Sports Stars

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With 8 seconds left in Game 5 and the Warriors clinging to a 106-105 lead, Kawhi Leonard held the ball with the intent to score the winning basket and give Toronto its first NBA title in their history. Kawhi was guarded closely by Klay Thompson but when he made a move to the right, Andre Iguadala rushed up to double team Kawhi leaving him no option but to give up the ball. With time running out, Kyle Lowry had an open 3 point shot from the corner. But, Draymond Green ran hard at him with the proper angle and tipped the ball away. Game over, the Warriors stayed alive, and Game 6 will be played at Oracle in Oakland.

As an avid Warrior fan, I thought I would be jumping up and down when Klay drained those two 3’s and Steph also knocked down a 3 and the Warriors outscored the Raptors 9-2 in the final 3 minutes of the game. And I thought I would go wild when Draymond blocked Lowry’s shot at the buzzer. But, I just watched this thrilling ending with a strange calmness as my mind was on Kevin Durant and what he was going through after his leg injury. At the time, I didn’t know the severity of KD’s injury but I did know that we would not see him for the remainder of this 2019 Championship Final.

While watching the post-game interviews, my entire focus was on the status of KD. When Bob Myers broke down at the podium to announce that KD’s injury was to his Achilles, my heart sank. As Bob spoke of the greatness of KD as a player, as a great teammate, and as a wonderful “person” that he was lucky to know, I also broke down. It re-kindled what I always thought about sports celebrities… They are human and have the same emotional drives and feelings just like anyone else. We, as sports fans, focus only on what our sports stars do on the playing field and our idea of them is measured only on whether our teams win or lose. If they get hurt, we expect them to recover as quickly as possible and get back to playing so our teams have a better chance of putting up another W on the board.

I confess that I am as guilty as most other sports fans as I look to sports as a way to relax and get away from thinking about what’s going on in the real world. I wanted KD to come back as his greatness as a player gave the Warriors the best chance to win another title. When KD went down last night, the Raptor fans began cheering his injury which is perfectly understandable as the Warriors without KD gave the Raptors the best chance to win their first title. In the NBA, there is a brotherhood throughout the league. Kyle Lowry and Danny Green urged their crowd to show respect to KD. Only then did the fans began showing their respect.

Professional sports is a multi-billion dollar industry. Since the world revolves around money, our sports stars are under a lot of pressure to win as fans pay top dollars to watch them perform and TV advertisers overpay to get their products out in front of the fans watching their teams. Also, the sports media are paid to sensationalize every angle of every game with special attention given to championship games. As KD was recovering from his first injury in the Houston series, the headlines focused on:

  • If the Warriors win the title without KD, it’ll be his worst nightmare as he isn’t needed for the Warriors to win.
  • If the Warriors win, KD will leave… If they lose, he will stay…
  • KD will not return for this championship series as he doesn’t want to risk getting hurt which will affect his free agency and earn him top dollars in his next contract.
  • The Warriors are confused and pissed off that it is taking KD so long to recover from his initial injury.

Now that KD did suffer a devastating injury last night, the media coverage is all about:

  • The Warriors should never have allowed KD to come back.
  • KD’s injury will have a profound impact on the entire NBA in July when free agency begins. Teams like the Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Lakers and others have already made big moves to trade players and clear their team salaries to entice KD to join their team. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent and hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent for KD’s new contract.
  • Which team will still offer KD a max contract knowing that he will not be playing next year and also not knowing if he can fully recover.

There is no media coverage on how KD is feeling as a person. How he feels does not generate interest thus does not generate revenue.

During Bob Myers’ report on the status of KD, he made a point that KD is the most misunderstood person that he knows. The reason that Bob said that is due to the sensationalistic reporting by the media about KD. Many media reporters make up stories about KD which are totally untrue simply to stir up controversy. This is the reason that KD and many other sports stars hate the media. Not all media reporters are bad. They also have a job to do and the better ones do thorough investigating and report on facts. But, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the entire barrel and because sports stars are real people too, many are very reluctant to reveal too much when being interviewed. DeMarcus Cousins said it best when he was interviewed last night about KD’s injury and his critics:

“F— them, f— them,” Cousins said at Scotiabank Arena following the Warriors’ 106-105 win.

Cousins made it clear that he didn’t like the crowd’s initial reaction. 

“Trash,” Cousins told reporters. “So trash. But like I said, we’re idolized as superstar athletes, not human beings. It’s always about what we can do between those lines [on the court]. That’s it. That’s all that ever matters. 

“And then once we lash out and do human-type things, then we’re considered bad guys.”

None of us really know our star athletes on the teams that we cheer for. But, we can get a pretty good idea of what kind of person they are by what they do for our communities, how loved they are for giving to charities, and how loved and respected they are by their teammates and the organization. By these measures, it appears to me that most if not all athletes who play for the Warriors are good people who care for one another and also their community.

Whether the Warriors win or lose this year’s championship, they will always hold a spot in my heart knowing that this is a team that plays exciting ball because they are not only talented but they also care for one another and care about the community that they serve.

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