So, here we are again. Where do I start? I don’t even know. Well, first, this is about Kevin Durant–the brightest light of hope in the Washington, DC area. As most of you should already know, Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies.
The entire series, no, postseason has been extremely difficult for me. Of course, remaining as objective as possible when writing about things in sports culture is a must. But every once in a while, your biases come into play with certain teams or players. And with that said, Durant can draw out the fan in me at any point.
I root for Kevin Durant as much as I do for my beloved Washington Wizards–maybe even more so, depending on circumstance. I’m still a Wizards fan, tried and true, however, Durant has something that some of the Wizards will never know about.
Durant’s plight is something that I, we, face every day. When I say we, I’m talking about the DMV. The District, Maryland and Virginia. I really hate the term DMV because each place is very unique–they all have one thing in common though.
All of these places are known for people coming in and having success–especially the District. Think about that–rarely do you ever see or hear of any success stories out of the DMV. Really, the District is famous because of the government. The President lives in DC–how could you forget about it?
There are the national monuments, great museums and great people living here but its becoming a tourist attraction and nothing more. Gentrification has affected a lot of the residents that live DC. A lot of the residents who lived in the inner city are forced to move out to closer, less privileged areas in Maryland.
This is where my family comes from. For a chunk of my childhood, I lived in Forestville, Maryland. I went to school in Capitol Heights–one of the worst neighborhoods in the area today. I won’t go into much detail about why, but lets just say you wouldn’t want to raise a family there.
Luckily, my immediate family was able to move away into place better suited to raise a family. I received a quality education, I made new friends and have created a great circle around me because of it. I took my time to learn some of life’s most valuable lessons that would’ve been thrown at me if my family hadn’t made our move when we did.
I appreciate this fact every day that I wake up. I know that I have been afforded an opportunity that many others haven’t been able to–even people that I know. Some of the children that I grew up with aren’t even with us today. Some are dead, some are in jail and some are on drugs.
While that is a sad reality, it is still a reality. Its a reality because of the environment that they grew up in, but really, it didn’t have to be. A very good friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about this very thing, and he brought up Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
In this story chronicled by Plato, a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, there are prisoners who are being held in a cave. In the cave, there is a hole and outside of that hole there is a fire. The light from the outside shines into the cave and as people from outside of the cave walk by, their shadows cast into the cave.
The prisoners see these shadows and assume that this is the only reality. They have never seen the outside of this cave, so they don’t know any better.
The dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon continued to say that once a man was freed from this cave, he’d see what reality truly was and embrace it after becoming acclimated to the light.
They continued to suggest that the man, once a prisoner in the cave, would return to the cave that he once resided in because it was his home.
He’d try to describe the life that he now lives to his peers who are still currently prisoners, and they’d think that he was a fool because they don’t know what is on the outside. Since they do not know, they will not accept it as reality.
That is what the people go through where I come from. I see this every single day. Every. Single. Day.
Getting back to the plight of Kevin Durant, he sees this too. Except for he’s the man who was freed from the cave. Durant lived in this area very close to the one that I come from. In fact, I have a cousin who went to school with Durant for a very short time.
Durant grew up in Prince Georges County–the same county where I resided for much of my childhood. He saw exactly what I saw and I’m sure he still sees it today. Still, Durant never hesitates to give back to this community and make it a better place.
You can catch Durant playing in local gyms during the offseason all over the area. He loves his home and will never forget about it.
What a majority of the media recognizes as humble is commonplace in this area. We are all very humble, easy going and unassuming people. The hustle and bustle of the city isn’t what embodies this area. We are generous, kind and very delightful to be around. We give our best and we give our last to even the strangest of strangers.
Though the city is changing, the people who embody it never do. And that’s why Durant is the way that he is. Sure, he lives in Oklahoma now, but he will always be from the DMV.
He will always see what I, no, we see every day and he will always embrace that.
Now to bring it full circle back to the loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. This was heart wrenching for me, of course, because I always hate to see Durant knocked back. Like he said, he’s tired of coming in second and I concur–I’m tired of it, too.
Did I know that it was likely that the Thunder wouldn’t win the series? Of course I did. They lost one of their two stars in Russell Westbrook and had very little time to develop a backup plan to pacify the situation.
Did I easily accept the fact that Durant was going to be knocked out of the playoffs? No, I didn’t. I couldn’t. After last season’s accomplishment of making the NBA Finals, I only expect the best from and for Durant–nothing less.
He had his best season to date, but that wasn’t enough for me. Joining the 40-50-90 club wasn’t good enough for us. No, we wanted more. Averaging 30.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the playoffs while carrying a team was not good enough for us. We needed more.
What my expectation was was for Durant to bring home a title to the DMV. While it was an unrealistic expectation, it was the desired one. The city wanted no less, I wanted no less, but, more importantly, Durant wanted no less.
If you ask him, he wanted the title. Losing this early is not acceptable. Using Westbrook’s injury as a crutch is frowned upon. Unrealistic expectations are realistic when it comes to being the greatest and that’s damn sure what Durant is aiming for.
Everyone in this area believes that he can do it, too. If you ask the common fan in DC, Maryland and Virginia, Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA. LeBron James gets his props, but we’ll probably never get over this. Kobe Bryant is pretty meh, but Durant is the bees knees.
We genuinely want Kevin Durant to be the best player to ever touch a basketball. Even if its the only thing that we have, it’ll be more than enough.
We still love the greats that have come before him in the NBA. Elgin Baylor, Adrian Dantley, Mugsy Bouges, Austin Carr and everyone else are still appreciated. But Durant–he can be the best of the best and this is the first time in a while we’ve generally felt this way about a player.
We haven’t seen success in sports in quite a while. We didn’t have a baseball franchise for decades, the Washington Redskins just won their first division title in who knows when, Gilbert Arenas poops in shoes and Andray Blatche is just himself. Durant gives us a reason to believe in sports even on another franchise.
Personally, Durant is one of the greatest inspirations I have as a writer. No, I’ll never be a scoring champion in the NBA, but the fact that he’s from where I’m from shows me that I can be something special, too.
It makes me believe that I was pulled from the cave for a reason and it makes me believe that I will be able to pull someone else from the cave as well. I believe that I’m going to be a special as long as I keep working hard at what I do. That’s why I’m up right now at 2:47 a.m, writing this for everyone to read it–because I want to be that good.
And I believe that everything that I earn in this life is a blessing and should be enjoyed. I will never take what I do for granted, just as Durant believes the same thing about his path. Take a look at this quote from Durant via ESPN.com. He was asked if he felt this season was a waste of time just as Bryant felt that his season was a waste of time in 2010.
“I don’t give a damn. I’m going to be who I’m going to be. I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m not Michael Jordan. I’m not LeBron James. I’m not Magic Johnson. I’m me. I’m not going to ever compromise myself, my integrity and what I believe in for winning some basketball games and winning a championship. That’s just not how I was brought up.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. The key part in that, to me, was the emphatic ending. “That’s not how I was brought up,” Durant said. That’s exactly how I see things and how all of us who are afforded opportunities in life should see things.
There’s never a moment wasted–not where we come from. And we are going to take advantage of every single moment that we have doing what we love. This is the attitude that will get us to the top. This is what will make our dreams come to fruition.
We’re putting the DMV on the map on step at a time. With every basket made, Durant grows closer to his goal. With every word I type, I grow closer to mine. I said it last year, I’ll say it again: I want Kevin Durant to be the best player ever when its all said and done.
Again, I want Kevin Durant to be the best player ever when his career is over. And I’ll work on being the best writer ever, too.