From Distance: Spoiler Alert, Mr. Durant

one point play.

Note: this week, I write to Kevin Durant in wake of yet another little podcast controversy regarding Durant’s decision to join the Warriors.  

Dear Kevin Durant,

People watch basketball because it is entertaining. The NBA’s entertainment value is what garnered you your millions. Don’t get me wrong. You have earned your contracts with outstanding play. In the NBA ecosystem, your contract is well-deserved, as you are an incredibly gifted athlete who has performed consistently on the biggest stages. Still, there are many other sports that aren’t nearly as entertaining as NBA basketball, thus not worth the billions of dollars that the NBA is worth. Sport, in and of itself, is not what earned you millions. Marketable entertainment value did.

You need to accept that people, including your beloved “blog boys”, are perfectly within their right to criticize your decisions if those decisions make their preferred form of entertainment slightly less so. It’s true NBA fans have varying levels of basketball knowledge. I get just as frustrated arguing with Kobe fans over his value. I’ll leave it to you to guess which side I argue.

In any case, your reactions to any criticism over your decision to sign with the Warriors has been rather juvenile. You are missing the fans’ primary argument.

Contrary to popular “old school thought”, most modern fans are, in fact, pro labor as it pertains to NBA players. We cheer for your agency in Free Agency.

Many don’t lament the buddy-buddy nature of the current NBA landscape.

Probably half of fans don’t even care about who “the man” on any particularly team is. The “alpha-dog” conversation is rather blasé at this point. We have collectively accepted and lowered its status seemingly at the same time.

Personally, I don’t mind that players want to surround themselves with other good players to form a pleasant work environment. I doubt I’m alone in that. That all sounds fine.

BUT,

Don’t equate your work environment to the average fans’ work environment. Ninety percent are not haters for the sake of hating. Whether they actively understand the difference between Loop and Floppy, could identify a left-handed Hezzy, or only barely comprehend a basic Pick and Roll, their annoyance at your decision is not based on their basketball acumen. It’s also not based on a desire to disregard the normal human being that you are.

Instead, those fans who supply your rightfully earned millions of dollars simply want a good product. An entertaining product. If one team becomes incredibly powerful because your particular free agency has robbed the NBA a smidge of its drama, you can’t very well blame the fans if they get a little perturbed.

Some would argue that the league is more entertaining when there are super dominant teams. That’s not really relevant. Some would also argue that competitive balance is more entertaining. People have their agency to come to whatever opinion they prefer.

Your consistent social media and podcast whining about how fans just don’t understand basketball and/or NBA work life has outed you as someone who doesn’t understand the fundamental value of your job. To entertain.

You often incredulously respond to tough questions with “what does that even mean?” Let me help.

Look, I make my living as a singer and actor. I literally am an entertainer as well. I am also an artist. I very much love when I have the opportunity to collaborate with my talented friends. Our individual artistic talents combined with our friendships can often lift a production to great heights.

Indeed, the audience is more likely to enjoy a show with many talented players more than they enjoy a show with just one star surrounded by a mediocre supporting cast.

I get where you are coming from on that account. You shouldn’t be penalized for wanting to evolve as a basketball artist via collaboration with other high level artists. For you, it’s about the art of basketball. My artistry is the primary reason I do what I do as well. Both of us would, and frequently do, create our respective arts regardless of public consumption. You live to hoop. It is your art. I feel you.

Yet, the problem with only focusing on the artistic aspect is that the public does matter for our paychecks. The art is also the job. Furthermore, our jobs aren’t completely analogous. My actual job isn’t a competition (getting the job is ultra competitive, but that is something else).

Sure there are awards if one does well, but a particular opera production isn’t actively competing against another opera production for superiority. There is no inherently tangible entertainment value to that competition.

So please, Mr. Durant, understand that your primary monetary value lies in the entertainment field and that NBA entertainment is reliant on a suitable level of competitive suspense.

If a fan is less entertained now than before your decision, maybe you could try to trot out the old “agree to disagree” trope. The fans aren’t out to get you. They aren’t all idiotic basketball minds. They just like to watch a good sports flick every season.

Your choice to sign with the Warriors is rather like shouting the end of a movie during the opening credits. Talk about a Spoiler. Yeah, real filmheads still might enjoy expert-screen writing and shot structure, but that spoiler does rob us of a great delight, the unknown.

Sincerely,

Ben

P.S. Thank you for preventing Steph Curry from winning Finals MVP these past two years. That guy…

P.P.S. Kobe as your second best player ever? Really? Sigh

 

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Raoul
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Raoul
2 months 22 days ago

Durant go home!

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 22 days ago

news flash—–former Michigan players say that —‘players don’t like HARBAUGH ‘——–IMAGINE THAT / SHOCKING NEWS HUH——-GO BUCKS !!!!

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 22 days ago

don’t want to see this—–we would only have him for this season—-isn’t he a free agent after this year—NO WAY Indians can afford him—HARPER wants to be in a bigger market also

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 22 days ago

I would definitely consider it. There would be sell outs through the end of the season, and this move could push them over the top. I don’t know a ton about the prospects, but I’m not sure they are #1 starting pitchers.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 22 days ago

Source: #Indians, #Nats have been in contact regarding Bryce Harper, but Cleveland has thus far refused to include Shane Bieber in any offer. @MLB @MLBNetwork

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 31, 2018

Jason
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Jason
2 months 22 days ago

Get rid of Hood. He is a drain. And a huge net negative. At least Clarkson tries.

Hill, Clarkson, Osman, Love, Nance.
Sexton, Nwaba, Korver, Colson, Zizic.
Scootchie, Holland, JR, Frye, TT.

2 way: Preston + Artis/White.

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 22 days ago

really believe Rodney doesn’t want to be part of the cavs going forward /– best bet –do a sign and trade – if there is a ‘buyer ‘ out there ——-would still like to see a FULL YEAR —-WITHOUT LEBRON’S (SHADOW ) to see what kind of player HOOD really is / or could be

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 22 days ago

I now think this is a pattern with Rod Hood. It’s always about Rod Hood and the team is secondary. It’s not a coincidence that no other team has signed him to an offer sheet. I don’t think anyone wants the headache, with such a mediocre/underwhelming talent. Get rid of him and sign Nwaba, if he’s still available.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 22 days ago

Rodney Hood seems to only want a fair short-term deal, but Cleveland has not put what Hood feels is an acceptable offer on the table and contract talks have stalled, per sources familiar with the negotiation. #Cavs

— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 30, 2018

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 22 days ago

Peace out Rodney! Maybe we could do a sign and trade for this “Me First” player. I’d take a trade exception and a 2nd round pick.

Joeyb
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Joeyb
2 months 23 days ago

Well played picture.

Raoul
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Raoul
2 months 23 days ago

I would prefer the emoji that is a pile of poop!

EvilGenius
Admin
2 months 23 days ago

That one is reserved for James Harden (at least the golden one)…

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 23 days ago

THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 23 days ago

AYE…………………………………………………………………………………………..!!!!!

Raoul
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Raoul
2 months 23 days ago

Durant go home! Get off our page!

JRL
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JRL
2 months 22 days ago

Please. Seriously…

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 23 days ago

congrats to LeBron for fulfilling his ambition of his I PROMISE SCHOOL ON AKRON / AND A BIG THANK YOU FOR GROWING INTO THE VERY POSITIVE LEADER FOR OUR YOUTH !!!

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
2 months 23 days ago

It’s definitely the greatest thing he’s done be for NE Ohio.

John B
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John B
2 months 23 days ago

He has done a ton for NE ohio and has taken the role of activist athlete in the vein of Jim Brown which is wonderful. Glad to see athletes have become outspoken again. As far as I have heard, publicly, he is an exemplary role model.

Of course you can’t really know about who a public figure really is in private, but as far as I can tell he is a stand up guy. You have rarely heard about any issues he has had off the court. Kind of amazing considering how much pressure and spotlight was on him since he was 17. I always have respected all of that about him.

MattC86
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MattC86
2 months 22 days ago
Well, there are rumblings on some negative personal stuff about LeBron if you know where to look/listen, and I’m not talking about alleged bad tipping or surping control of his teams. But even the worst stuff I’ve heard about him isn’t really that bad in the grand scheme of professional sports and the many true dirtbag pro athletes. His dedication to his kids seems 100% genuine, and no matter how much I question some other aspects of his character, I HAVE to respect the hell out of that. My family and kids mean everything to me. I would do anything for them, even if it put me at odds with my employer, my friends, etc. From everything I can see, LeBron feels and does the same. In a world full of self-absorbed jerks in all lucrative walks of life who don’t give two shits about their kids — pro sports and otherwise — that’s pretty awesome to see. But the move to LAL is still and always will be very disappointing to me. It’s cheesy on so many levels, and I will never respect it, not even if he four-peats there to close his career. It’s pretty telling that he… Read more »
ChrisKorvalier
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ChrisKorvalier
2 months 22 days ago

I have to agree about that move to LA. It’s seems like that’s what the media wanted, so he complied. So strange after all of his “Cleveland or nowhere” talk over the last 4 years. I could go on and on, but won’t. :D

Basically, he’s an athlete that felt an obligation to win a title in Cleveland (and, thank God, he did!), but he proved twice that he never really wanted to live or play here. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of thing Cleveland fans will remember long after he retires.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 21 days ago

Have a feeling this move had as much to do with what Savannah, the kids, and his mom want as much as anything else.

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 23 days ago

all in favor of not seeing DURANTS MUG anymore say ——aye/ aye / aye/ aye/ aye /aye ………………………….please Evil just write a 1 sentence post to get rid of durants mug !!!!!

Jason
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Jason
2 months 23 days ago

Seconded. A story on Cedi. Sexton. Billy Preston. Anything.

JRL
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JRL
2 months 23 days ago

Aye!

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 23 days ago

thank you dirk—-” a pro’s / pro “—old school !!

Jason
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Jason
2 months 23 days ago

I love Dirk.

Jason
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Jason
2 months 23 days ago

The Mavs are going to be sneaky good this year. Carlisle did a masterful job of tanking 4th quarters last year. Mavs point diff was not nearly as bad as tgeir record.

Smith Jr, Matthews, Doncic, Barnes, Dirk, and DeAndre is a decent top 6.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 24 days ago

Dirk Nowitzki of the #Mavs says Kevin Durant of the #Warriors should chill when it comes to social-media flaps. #NBAhttps://t.co/nnsrLW62AX

— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) July 29, 2018

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
2 months 24 days ago

Among the 145 NBA players to use over 12 possessions per game last season, Kevin Love ranked 10th in scoring efficiency.

— Synergy Basketball (@SynergySST) July 24, 2018

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 24 days ago

100 % agree with Jason !!

Jason
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Jason
2 months 24 days ago

Someone write another piece quick so Durant’s ugly mug stops defiling the site.

Raoul
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Raoul
2 months 24 days ago

Dude got ugly he ain’t used yet!

Joeyb
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Joeyb
2 months 24 days ago

Lol

newnomad
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newnomad
2 months 25 days ago

have mentioned before —-I like Holland—just with his age / has peaked as a player / I would go more on youth with the other 2 way contract —-build for 2-3 yrs down the road —just my opinion

Jason
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Jason
2 months 25 days ago

I was just listing how we look with who we have signed at the moment. Not what we should do going forward.

Jason
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Jason
2 months 25 days ago

For the Cavs, we need another PG (unless Clarkson is #3 PG) & some forwards.

Hill, Hood, Osman, Love, Nance.
Sexton, JR, Korver, TT, Zizic
????, ????, ??????, White, Frye
2 way: Holland, Preston

Jason
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Jason
2 months 25 days ago

Oops, forgot Clarkson:
Starters: Hill, Hood, Osman, Love, Nance
2nd: Sexton, Clarkson, Korver, ????, TT
3rd: ???, JR, White, Frye, Zizic
2 way: Holland, Preston

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 25 days ago

Also, the Kobe as the second best is absurd and clearly a dig at LBJ. However, considering some people that watched, as adults, both MJ and the likes of Jabbar, Wilt, and Russell in their prime were never on the 90s hype train for MJ as the goat, this statement is wholly lacking in historical perspective. Granted many of those that can claim that are gone now or nearing the end of their lives, so it becomes difficult for younger generations that have not attempted to find archival footage to see those three guys as equal, or more likely better than MJ.

Jason
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Jason
2 months 25 days ago

Kobe is not even in my top 10. 12th tops.

Russell, MJ, Kareem, Wilt, Bron, Magic, Bird, Duncan, Oscar, Shaq. Mikan 11th.

MikeO
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MikeO
2 months 25 days ago

Kobe is top 15 or 20. Really great player, while at the same time being one of the most overrated in NBA history.

Jason
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Jason
2 months 25 days ago

Started watching hoops in ’75 as a kid. So never saw Wilt, Russell, or Oscar. Missed some of Kareem, most of Havlicek, and all of Pettit. But my dad did, & he played. My uncle Stu was the basketball coach at Marshall. Many hoops talks with both.

I feel real confident about Wilt, Kareem, & Russell in the top 4 & Oscar in the top 10.

MikeO
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MikeO
2 months 25 days ago

Rockets sign Capela for 5 years $90 million, less than he wanted, but not bad.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 25 days ago

Makes TT’s contract look like highway robbery on Klutch’s part (5 years 82 million). Capela gets only 8 million more. Insane.

Vintage
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Vintage
2 months 25 days ago

Basically a little more than what Draymond is making too right?

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 25 days ago

Actually, Draymond is making exactly the same amount as TT. So Capela is also making 8 million a year more than Draymond, meaning Draymond really got the shaft relative to TT. You could argue Capela/Draymond are nearly equally important to their team’s success. So when looking at their contracts in comparison to TT’s….wow, just wow. I mean we thought that contract was insane back when the cavs had to cave in order to not entirely screw their playoff chemistry. How much more absurd does it look now?

Ok that was before the ship, but I felt the demand/holdout/cavs caving was insane back then. We took GS to six games without Irving and Love and TT signed in October 2015. Before Durant, but more importantly before necessary. Good for him. Good for Rich Paul. Still think we win in 2016.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 25 days ago

Man Ujiri isn’t making any friends…

Dwane Casey is still harbouring plenty of resentment towards Masai Ujiri, by @amathur90. #NBA https://t.co/xnOeJzTEzY

— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) July 27, 2018

Nate Smith
Admin
2 months 25 days ago

He doesn’t deserve to. He has been mediocre at best as a GM.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 25 days ago

Free agent forward Pat Connaughton has agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 27, 2018

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 25 days ago

"I should shut the f— up, right? Man, get out the way. I done did the work, I done showed you what I do … let this s— roll." Kevin Durant sit-down from Las Vegas: https://t.co/aeqehi2PIW

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 27, 2018

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 25 days ago

Kevin Durant doesn’t care yet he constantly does interviews and responds to random people online. Softest dude alive.

— Adam (@TripJaw) July 27, 2018

Treize Khushrenada
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Treize Khushrenada
2 months 26 days ago

Doesn’t the variability of single games generate sufficient competetive suspense to provide most fans enough entertainment value to support the league, even when those fluctuations, averaged out over multiple games, are insufficient to make the regular season standings or playoff outcomes anything other than “predetermined” for all intents and purposes?

If not, then why did Sacramento fans fight so hard to maintain their opportunity to watch 41 Kings games per year in person instead of on TV?

The most recent examples of such entertainingly suspenseful games include:

* Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals
* Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals
* Cleveland vs. Houston, 2018 NBA Summer League round 2

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he [Scoochie Smith] comes from The Bronx, New York!”

John B
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John B
2 months 26 days ago

In my opinion, hell no. You don’t get game sevens if you don’t have competitive series whether due to injuries or one team not taking another seriously. Summer league doesn’t count. Overall the finals were boring as hell this year because save for one single game which was stolen by refing/given away by the Cavs, the rest of it was barely watchable. Also a game one like in the finals is really only truly enjoyable if your team wins. Otherwise it just sucks and is neither a good memory or really a great use of your time. Just my view, because I regretted watching that game after how it went down.

Why did the king’s fans want to save their team? Because at some point in five or six years the warriors will age out of rolling over everyone when they want to focus enough/respect the other team enough to o so. The king’s aren’t in contention anyway, so watching a young team grow is its own thing. I doubt king’s fans watch much of the playoffs anyway. I wouldn’t if I hadn’t a vested interest in the Cavs. Don’t really care about watching the warriors.

Treize Khushrenada
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Treize Khushrenada
2 months 25 days ago

The league would clearly lose some revenue if it were to guarantee three more years of Golden State sweeping the Cavs in the Finals. But how much revenue, do you reckon?

(ugh, that scenario is mild torture just to think about . . .)

Would most players’ salaries drop under $1M per year in the next CBA? Would the NBA’s business plummet to the levels of “Slamball” or “And One Mixtape Tour”?

Your explanation of the Sacramento fans’ mindset seems to indicate it would not. They keep paying to attend games, and local stations continue to pay for the rights to air the Kings’ regular-season games. So the NBA will have plenty of money in its bank account going forward, just from people watching to see who wins any particular game, even if that “meaningless” game doesn’t bring the immense joy we all felt at the end of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 25 days ago

As to the first, likely a lot. Finals/wcf are usually huge money makers, relative to how many games they are compared to the rest of the season, if they are competitive since they always draw the largest ratings out of any games in the season. Doubt many people would tune into a slaughter for the next four years. Not that the cavs would be there anyway.

Yes the Kings fans I am sure tune into the regular season games, but doubt as many fans tune into non-competing playoff series outside the fans whose team’s are participating. Again, a huge chunk of tv money comes from the playoffs though. All national TV games whose ratings usually dwarf the vast majority of regular season games, save the occasional national tv top seed contender matchup.

However, I hadn’t realized your first question was from a purely monetary fiscal perspective. No doubt the league will be fine. However, if playoff ratings drop significantly, you will certainly see a cap decrease and subsequently less money for player contracts signed in those periods. Again playoff tv money is a huge boost for nba revenue at the end of seasons.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 25 days ago

Sorry repeated myself a bit. Been a long day.

Treize Khushrenada
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Treize Khushrenada
2 months 25 days ago

Sorry, I should have clarified off the top that my original post was in response to Ben’s assertion that, “your primary monetary value lies in the entertainment field and that NBA entertainment is reliant on a suitable level of competitive suspense.”

To rephrase my argument: regular-season games by themselves will always have sufficient “competitive suspense” to pay Durant millions, even if the league were to cancel the playoffs because no one wants to see Golden State win yet again.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
2 months 24 days ago

That is undoubtedly true. The cap and maximum possible contracts will shrink with decreased playoff tv revenue.

Nate Smith
Admin
2 months 26 days ago

Great stuff, Ben. Though you were a bit more delicate than I would’ve been.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 26 days ago

I didn’t listen to any Durant podcast, but I’m assuming he went on with his good friend Billy Simmons.

Nate Smith
Admin
2 months 26 days ago

Nate Smith
Admin
2 months 26 days ago

MikeO
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MikeO
2 months 26 days ago

Durant should just be his co-host at this point.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 26 days ago

Now that LeBron is in LA, I wonder if Durant will convince him to go on the Billy Simmons podcast?

MikeO
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MikeO
2 months 26 days ago

I doubt it.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
2 months 26 days ago

Hood is a drain not a fountain.

Jason
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Jason
2 months 26 days ago

I am super not impressed with Hood & Clarkson. A long term deal for Hood better be less than Crowder makes.

Vintage
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Vintage
2 months 26 days ago
Nate Smith
Admin
2 months 26 days ago

Jesus. #9. Pluto has literally no idea how valuable Hill’s contract will be at the end of the season.

Slammin Sam
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Slammin Sam
2 months 26 days ago

I think most of the press has a very poor understanding of the Cavs’ cap situation.

JRL
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JRL
2 months 26 days ago

#10 is worst.

Chris K
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Chris K
2 months 24 days ago

Should #15 even be a question?

John B
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John B
2 months 26 days ago

Nice piece.

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