Hate is never a good thing. Nobody ever meets someone with the goal of eventually hating them. I could personally count the people I’ve actually met who I’d consistently use the term ‘hate’ on with one hand and that special category of people had to really earn it.
However for some reason, sports completely flips that idea on its head. Suddenly that term flows a lot easier when it comes to certain teams and players. I hate Tom Brady. I hate Markieff and Marcus Morris. I hate Kobe Bryant. I hate Jose Bautista. I could name so many former Jayhawks, Cornhuskers, Yankees, Lakers, Packers and Cowboys — the list is nearly endless.
That is the thing with sports — it is almost as fun to root against someone as it is to root for someone. It is the reason that in the scripted world of professional wrestling, they script ‘baby faces’ and ‘heels’ so fans have a rooting interest in every match.
When Kevin Durant was at Texas for a year and when he was building up the Oklahoma City Thunder from nothing along with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, I was a huge fan. The guy has an undeniably fun skill set.
Then Durant decided to join the record-breaking Warriors and team with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to form the most formidable super team since the Celtics in their glory years with Bill Russell.
To me, it looked like Durant had one of the top-five most talented supporting casts in the NBA for a free ride to an NBA championship.
They did just that his first two seasons, winning two Finals MVPs, and my sports hate only grew because the diabolical plan was all working out.
That brings me to Monday’s Game Five of the NBA Finals and midway through the second quarter when Durant fell to the floor with an injury that appears to be an Achilles tear.
Durant had been sitting out the past two rounds of the playoffs with what the Warriors called a calf injury. Then you see players on his own team like Kevon Looney and Thompson play through obvious pain while Durant continued to sit. With speculation that the injury might not be that severe, the sports hate for him just continued to grow.
However in Game Five, Durant returned with his team down three games to one to the Toronto Raptors and started strong as the Warriors took an early lead.
Then the injury happened and Durant crumbled to the court and the Raptors fans showed the ugly side of sports hate and what happens when it goes too far. With Durant holding the back of his leg and being helped off the floor, Kyle Lowry and other Raptor players had to motion to the crowd because the fans were cheering the fact that he was injured.
The game continued with the Raptors rallying, but the Warriors hanging on in the end for a one-point victory and forced a Game Six.
After the game, the emotions were flowing for the Warriors and team president Bob Myers had some of the best sound bites of the night when he held back tears during a presser where he explained that Durant is misunderstood by sports fans.
As the night went along all that sports hate I had for Durant melted. He came back even though he was still injured to risk himself and his pending free agency for his team, every player and staffer had his back and preached the same message about how good of a guy he is, and then it came out that the expected injury is an Achilles tear — one of the worst injuries in all of sports.
Suddenly, I had to think about why I really hated Kevin Durant. Just because he chose to play on a certain team — that seems like a dumb reason.
Honestly it is stupid. It is why you can look at Twitter any day of the week and see all the sports hate and simply laugh at all the overreactions. Sometimes it is good to remind yourself that these athletes are real people and most are actually good people.
Sports hate can’t be taken too seriously and Monday was a good reminder. With that being said, sports hate is needed nearly as much as sports love is.
The sooner that Durant gets healthy and joins the Knicks like most predict, the sooner we can all get annoyed by New York fans and media. Sports are like movies, we need heroes and villains. Durant is capable of being both, which makes him a true superstar.
Get well soon, K.D. I am rooting for you …. for now at least.