Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Orville Higgins | Two bulls cannot rule in one pen

Published:Saturday | November 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (left) and Draymond Green sit on the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

For virtually all my life I have been a voracious reader of novels. I may have told the story before of how I took up reading as a child only because I never wanted to do housework, and I found out very early that my mother would not disturb you to do anything once she saw you reading.

I must have read thousands of fiction in my time and they all have one thing in common. They all make you think this COULD have happened. The better novels may have surprising twists and turns in the plot, but by the time you finish you almost feel you could have seen the finish coming.

The latest stand-off between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors (GSW) is something that a good novelist could have made into a first-class book. All the ingredients are there. Not too many great novels are written on sports anymore. I was spell bound as a child when I read Michael Anthony's The Games Were Coming, and CLR James' Beyond a Boundary remains an all-time favourite.

What we are witnessing now between these two NBA stars would be a classic storyline for a first-rated sports novel. Think about it. When Durant left Oklahoma City he was rated top three, at least in the NBA. He knew, however, that his legacy would be affected by the lack of rings. With the American public's penchant for using titles to determine greatness in basketball, Durant felt compelled to join a team that had won the title just before he joined them. The move was called wimpish and weak in many circles.

 

Not welcoming

 

Two years on, Durant has his two rings and may be headed for a third, but all is not well in what we thought was basketball paradise. We probably should have seen this coming. Draymond Green is not the most talented player on the GSW roster, but he is the muscle and the enforcer behind this team. He is the bad boy on an otherwise very classy organisation. He is the one who most plays with his heart on his sleeve. When a big superstar joins an already successful team it's a given that the other star players have to modify their games and their egos to facilitate him. It is not difficult to see that Draymond would be the least accommo-dating to Durant. One can almost see Green sizing up Durant from early and feel he was 'soft', which in many ways is the very opposite of what Draymond represents.

Draymond grabbing a rebound and not passing to Durant is not the real reason for the stand-off. That's just on the periphery. The real reason is about two guys trying to prove who is the real alpha dog. From Draymond's point of view Durant is still an uncommitted 'outsider' who came to Golden State for personal and convenient reasons. The fact that Durant has not pledged his long term future to the team only makes it worse. On the other hand, Durant sees himself as the superior basketball talent to Green and, therefore, shouldn't have to take a backward step to him.

Therein lies the basis for real fireworks. Management sus-pended Draymond for one game, which is subtly telling him that they take Durant's side in the ongoing drama. Draymond may well interpret this as the organisation seeing Durant as being ahead of him in terms of importance to the team. His pride will not make him take this lightly. No bully likes to feel emasculated. If this stand-off continues, and I don't see it stopping, then one of them will leave for next season.

Two bulls won't be able to rule in one pen. This isn't merely a sports story. This is an ongoing case of the nuances of human interaction with humans. Can management keep the two focused on winning another title or will the personal issues between the two prove damaging to the team? The sports gods are writing their own scripts on this one. Unlike regular novels, we can't simply go buy the book and read the ending. We simply will just have to wait and see.