Rise And Fall
He is the best player on the planet. That’s what the sports talking heads would call him. For the greater part of a year. He is the best, damn basketball player on the planet. That was Kevin Durant that they were talking about. The leader of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. The head honcho. The man at the top of the mountain.
And for a while, I believed them. I believed everything that they had to say about Kevin Durant. That he was a monster. That he was clutch. That he was the best scorer to ever touch the basketball. That was the narrative going into the beginning of this NBA season in October last year. And that was the narrative up until not too long ago, when the Brooklyn Nets were embarrassingly swept out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics in four games.
That was it. The best player on the planet underperformed. Choked under the pressure. Was a shell of his former self. And didn’t exceed the lofty expectations that were placed upon him throughout this season.
And now, just like that, I hear the exact opposite commotion about Kevin Durant. About how he’s past his prime. About how he’s a choke artist. How he severely disappointed the basketball fans around the world. And how he’s no longer the best player on the planet. And how his most recent loss in the playoffs will harm his legacy for now and forever.
It’s quite a contrary opinion for a man that, not too long ago, talking heads were proclaiming to be unstoppable and the best player on the planet. It felt like the rise and fall of Kevin Durant in a millisecond.
For years, they were heralding him as the basketball Mount Rushmore. Up there with Michael Jordan, and Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. And now, those same talking heads are critiquing him like he’s yesterday’s news. Like he’s just completely out of his element. Like he let the whole wide world down.
I guess that’s the price you pay for being an elite athlete in this world. Maybe not just an elite athlete but any human being out there. People will praise you for your work. They will demonize you for your failures. And it can all happen in the blink of an eye. Just like that. You will be past your prime and over the mountaintop. It will be nothing but downhill from there.
And I guess Kevin Durant’s recent experience with success and failure can be a nice snapshot for the human experience. When things are going well, people will praise you through the roof. But when things are falling and the roof is collapsing, those same people will critique you like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s when things aren’t going well when you get a true feel for who your true supporters are. Will they stick with you thru thick and thin? Will they continue to support you thru the tough times? It’s hard to say. But you get a sense of whom your real inner circle will be.
And I guess that’s life. People rise. And then they fall. Nobody is ever on the top of their game forever and ever. Even Michael Jordan had a forgettable two year stint with the Washington Wizards back in the early 2000’s. Even he got swept out of the playoffs before in his experience.
I guess we just need to find a way to block out the outside noise. The praises. The critiques. And just focus on our own development. Our own well-being. Move baby steps at a time. Even getting 1% better every day is progress at the end of the day.
And yes, appreciate the praises given to you. And maybe use the critiques as motivation and fuel for the fire. But, at the end of the day, don’t let those external circumstances dictate how you feel you truly are. Because we are all innately sufficient just the way we are, regardless of whether someone finds us skilled, attractive, or sufficient.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. There is nothing wrong with critiquing someone’s shortcomings or praising someone’s admirable qualities. That is absolutely fine as well. And it’s the job of the talking heads to talk and praise and criticize. But, at the end of the day, I hope that Kevin Durant finds the way to block out all the noise.
Honestly, who cares at the end of the day if you’re the best player on the planet or not. Those are just opinions. And opinions are flawed judgments in themselves worthy of debate for all eternity. So, whenever we are in hard times, just keep your head up and work hard and work smart. Get better every single day. And realize that the rise and fall of a human being is completely natural and accepting and open to interpretation.
We all excel. We all fail. We all get better. We all thrive at one point. And then we all have diminished skills at another certain point in time. We can all relate in some ways to Kevin Durant and his recent experience. Because we are all human beings. We just need to put our best foot forward every day and be the best version we can be every single day - regardless of the outside noise.
And that type of effort, my friends, should be more than enough.