Signing with Jay-Z won't change Durant's game in OKC
JUL 04, 2013 2:03p ET
He checks on old ladies during basketball games and signs a carpal tunnel's amount worth of autographs. With a smile to go along with it. Last May, when the Thunder lost in the Western Conference semifinals, he answered all the questions, then thanked reporters for being there.
Hey, no problem, KD.
In May, Durant donated $1 million to the tornado relief effort, and if the Red Cross didn't make a fuss about it, we may have never known about it. He didn't ever announce it.
And today? Just a Happy 4th message to his 4.4 million followers on Twitter.
Sigh. Exhale. Heart all pitter-patter.
In the reality world of TV advertisements, KD has only helped strengthen his resume for "World's Most Likeable." He's helped a mom clean her gutter, he's pitched deodorant, downed Gatorade and worked tirelessly on his jumper, been on his bike and run the stadium stairs.
But that was before an apparent shift in personality. Nike came along to tell us, "KD is not Nice." Jay-Z came along to sign Durant as a client to his new agency.
KD lived up to his, "Not Nice" persona on the court last season, getting thrown out of a game for the first time and picking up 12 technical fouls, ranking in the top 10 in the league, but for the first time since he's been in the league there's some confusion. On the court and off, there's a case to be made that Durant is changing.
What are we supposed to believe now?
Jumping to a third agent in his five years in the league seems unstable, and signing with the biggest name in rap, entertainment and beyond appears to be a move made in Hollywood. A power play by one of the top power players in the league.
Jay-Z, new to the agent game, has signed Geno Smith of the Jets and Robinson Cano of the Yankees – not exactly personalities who are anywhere remotely comparable to Durant's.
So, if it seems like Durant's in line to change, you'd definitely have plenty of reasons to think so.
Here's why you shouldn't worry, though:
KD is nice, you can see it by the way he interacts with his mother on the court and the fans off the court. Just because Nike says it isn't so, doesn't mean it's true.
Don't like Jay-Z, his music or business moves? You're not alone, but one thing about Jay-Z is, he doesn't limp in. He's pretty much the best.
And maybe that's what Durant wants. Tied to LeBron and compared to Kobe, Durant has zero championship rings and all of the desire. The move to Jay-Z is a reach to greatness. It doesn't mean he's going to bolt for California. It doesn't mean he's going to be wooed by Times Square billboards.
It means he wants to get even more serious about winning championships. And that's the very thing that will keep in Oklahoma City. While there's not a lot of loyalty in sports, you get the feeling Durant is more OKC than he is Bright Lights, Big City.
"He [Jay-Z] has nothing to do with if I'm going to leave OKC or none of that," Durant told The Oklahoman last week. "I heard that before, so put that out on the table. He has nothing to do with that. He knows his lane with me. Their team knows their lane with me. And they're letting me handle the basketball part. I would tell fans not to worry about that at all."
Instead of a major announcement, Durant quietly posted a photo of himself signing with Jay-Z. Instead of a big deal, he kept it as smooth as his 15-foot jumper.
But want to know what will keep Durant in Oklahoma City for even longer than his current contract which has him here through the 2016 season?
Russell Westbrook is signed with the Thunder through 2017, and the two of them together are good enough to win it all.
Do that, and it won't matter if it's Roc Nation or Rosenhaus representing Durant.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter @andrewgilmanOK