JJ Redick notes reaction to Kevin Durant’s, LeBron James’ ‘decisions’ rooted in racism
Longtime NBA veteran JJ Redick had a long conversation with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, tackling all aspects of racism in the United States, including — yes, “The Decision.”
The New Orleans Pelicans sharpshooter argued that the free-agent decisions that LeBron James (2010) and Kevin Durant (2016) took received major backlash due to white people being uncomfortable with a powerful black man being in a position of absolute power.
“Kevin Durant in 2016 when he joined the Warriors. LeBron James when he makes “The Decision.” There’s always this group of fans that want to make the argument ‘oh, he took the easy way out. He went and joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Or (in Durant’s place) he went and joined a team that had just beat him in the (NBA) playoffs.’… But I think an underlying reason for the reaction to Kevin and LeBron making those decisions is because people were uncomfortable with powerful black men making a decision for themselves. I really believe that.”
Redick noted those issues go back to “systemic racism in our society” and that the backlash they received stemmed from a lack of control from those in Ohio/Oklahoma who were disapproving of their choice.
James’ decision resulted in burnt jerseys, torn down billboards, and plenty of hostility upon his return to Cleveland during that specific NBA season. Durant was met with heavy criticism from his peers and former teammates, a rude return to Oklahoma City, along with extensive name-calling in social media.
Switching allegiance has often been met with hostility when it comes to sports, but Redick delineates something very important: the power James and Durant had changed the ecosystem, leaving one fanbase powerless while giving the other the ultimate weapon.
The Cavs’ struggled mightily in the NBA after James left while The King notched two titles in four seasons with the Miami Heat. Durant won back-to-back titles as well in his three-year stint in Golden State while Russell Westbrook and company fell out of the first round for three straight years after his departure.