Between swim practices and meets, family visiting, daily errands, and general laziness, I somehow started two posts late last week that I never got around to posting. So much for using interesting links as the jumping-off point for my own writing! We’ll get there, pop. We’ll get there.

Anyway, a couple sports notes.

KD to GS

Man, color me shocked when Kevin Durant announced he was signing with Golden State on Monday. The rumors had been around for months, but they never seemed real to me. I figured he would either re-sign with OKC, or go to an east coast team.

In the wake of his decision, I think there are three camps in moments like these. 1) The jilted fans from a player’s old team, who have every right to be upset. 2) Neutral fans who like the player, and thus are fine with his decision. 3) Neutral fans who do not like the player or the team he goes to, and thus are pissed about his decision.

I’m a big KD fan, and I like the Warriors. So I was just fine with his move. I don’t get all the outrage, though. He handled it way better than LeBron handled his move to Miami.[1] He was respectful of OKC and its fans. He didn’t burn any bridges. And in the end he did what we are supposed to want players to do: he made the move he thinks gives him the best chance to win.

We rip players who sign huge free agent contracts with middling teams that have no chance to win a title. “He’s just out for money and himself!” Durant did exactly the opposite: he signed with the team that just won the most regular season games in NBA history, won a title a year ago, and lost in game seven this year. Yeah, he’s not exactly taking a pay cut to do it, so it’s not like there’s a sacrifice involved. But he’s also entering a situation where he will not be The Man. Which is an amazing thing for a guy who is one of the top three players in the league and won an MVP two years ago.

You don’t have to love the move. But I don’t understand how you can rip it as a sign of everything that’s wrong with the NBA. KD is just as free to make the decision he thinks is best for his career as every other player is.

And all the people saying “Magic never left the Lakers to play with Bird,” or vice versa need to stop. Totally different eras in every single way. How do we know one of them wouldn’t have switched coasts if they had grown up in an era where the elite players all know each other from a decade of summer ball as teenagers and after two generations of free agency have made all pro athletes less loyal to the team that drafts them?

(News broke late Wednesday night that Dwyane Wade will be leaving Miami for Chicago today. I imagine his age plus going to his hometown team will bring a different reaction. What if he had signed with Cleveland, though?[2] I imagine he’s getting more money from Chicago. And the Bulls are certainly a lot farther from an NBA title than the Cavs. Is his move selfish? Shouldn’t he be more concerned with winning? I’m sure all the people who bitched about KD on Tuesday will be ideologically consistent today.)

Euro 2016

I missed much of the quarterfinals, including Italy’s heartbreaking loss to Germany on penalties and Iceland’s dream tournament coming to an end in a first-rate thrashing to France. But even with my Azzurri falling, I had a team to support. I may only be 1/4 or 1/5 or 1/8 Welsh,[3] but since my last name is Welsh, I claim them. And this year’s Wales team making it all the way to the semifinals was a joy to watch. I caught all of the second half of their quarterfinals win over Belgium, which was brilliant. And Wednesday, their fans were in full-throat the entire day against Portugal. Sadly Wales was playing without two key players because of the stupid yellow card rule, had a bad three minutes, and lost 2–0. Since I despise Christiano Ronaldo, and thus the current Portugal team, it was an especially tough loss. Now I’m potentially forced to pull for France in a major tournament final, unless the Germans can knock off the hosts today.

I enjoy European soccer a lot, but I hate how these tournaments often totally change character when the knock-out rounds begin. Teams that pushed forward and made an effort to score in the group stage suddenly pull back and play not to lose as much as to win. It’s so frustrating to watch teams that played beautiful soccer in their first three games pull the throttle way back when a loss means a ticket home. That’s one thing that was so much fun to watch about Spain during their four years of dominance; they always looked to be creative and find chances to score. But most teams are so scared of making a big mistake and falling behind early that they neuter what got them deep into the tournament in the first place.

  1. A decision LeBron acknowledged was a mistake, to his immense credit.  ↩
  2. No idea if that was ever a serious possibility. There was discussion of that move on a couple sites, but whether there was substance to the rumor is another thing.  ↩
  3. I’m all mixed up, so I have no idea what percentage Welsh, or anything else, I am.  ↩