“Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.”
A year ago Kevin Durant made waves and shook up the landscape of the NBA with his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors. As one might expect, Kevin Dunant’s decision was polarizing. On one side there were people who went so far as to burn him in effigy. His Oklahoma City Thunder jerseys were burned and he was called a traitor, coward, and all manner of disparaging terms. On the other side, people understood that he had fulfilled his contractual obligations to the team and was free to exercise his option to explore free agency and to sign with whomever he chooses, and he choose the Golden State Warriors.
In my opinion, a wise man doesn’t have to experience everything to learn the lesson or to see the value in the situation. Learning from the mistakes of others, and avoiding their mistakes is a skill that in my view is worth its weight in gold. As I’ve watched the Kevin Durant saga, for lack of a better term, play out over the course of a year, I think there are 3 valuable lessons that we regular, everyday brothers can learn and apply to our everyday lives.
Lesson 1: People Will Hate You For Whatever Do
At the end of the day, you’ve only got one live to live. When we are gone, that’s it. We can’t hit rewind. There are no do overs. We are here for a finite amount of time and we have to make that time count. No matter what you do there will always be some form of hate. Inevitably, there will be people who will have something negative to say about your choices, especially when you’re trying to do something positive or improve yourself. When you are trying to do better for yourself, there are always two groups of people who you need to be mindful of.
The first group is the people on your current level. Some of them will try to dissuade from aspiring to be better because they don’t want you to be better than them. They want you to stay on the same level as them because seeing you do better is an indictment on them and why they aren’t trying to do better.
The second group of people to be mindful of when you are trying to improve is the people at the level that you are aspiring to. As Palpatine told Anakin Skywalker, “ All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” The people on the level that you are aspiring to, often don’t want you there so that they can continue to maintain a sense of superiority over you and often times will sabotage you or try to dissuade you to maintain their place.
As long as you square your decision with yourself and whomever you call God, or have abided by your own personal moral code, that’s all that matters. Do what makes you happy because no matter what, someone will find something negative to say about it.
Lesson 2: Have The Courage To Do What You Feel Is Best For You
Kevin Durant gave the Oklahoma City Thunder (previously the Seattle SuperSonics) 10 years. In that time he gave it all he had. In his mind, he had gone as far with them as he could. He fulfilled is contractual obligations to the team, and then exercised his right to choose his next team as free agent. There were those that said that he should stay in Oklahoma City. There are those that said he that he’d given enough to the organization and should try to win elsewhere while he is still in his prime.
Going back to the previous lesson, people will hate you for whatever it is that you choose to do. Often times we refrain from doing what is in our best interest for fear of what other people may say or think. Kevin Durant’s decision wasn’t popular. Judging by what many basketball pundits, to include former players, the loudest of which being Charles Barkley had to say about it, wasn’t one that they would have made.
It doesn’t matter. None of them are Kevin Durant, and had to do what was best for him. What’s good for me may not be good for you, and that’s ok. Again, he made the decision that was best for him and validated it by not only winning the NBA championship, but by being the best player on the best team, and winning NBA Finals MVP along the way.
Lesson 3: Be At Peace With Your Choices
This is the culmination of the two previous lessons. Remember, the first lesson is that people will hate you for whatever it is that you decide to do. In some cases that hate doesn’t go away. Again, let’s look at Kevin Durant. By all accounts, he’s been a model citizen during his time in Oklahoma City. He’s donated his time and money to various charities and was active in the community. In 2013, he donated $1 million to the American Red Cross to help tornado victims in Oklahoma. He, along with several of his teammates, helped with the cleanup. These are but two examples of what he did for the community during his time with the team.
Even after all that, when he gave all had, fulfilled his contractual obligations, and exercised his right to free agency, some people still hate him. Even though he did nothing wrong, to a large number of people he may as well be evil incarnate. When we have the courage to do what we feel is right for us, it often comes at cost of being alienated from some people. So as such, we have to understand and accept the fact that some people will never “forgive” you for your choice. You have to be able to live with the consequences, both intended and unintended of our choices. So be at peace with your choices.