WE GOT BEEF!
And not the tasty kind, like a succulent rib-eye or maybe a T-Bone. No, this is of the hippity-hop variety, which is far less nourishing (kinda the opposite, mentally, if you stop to think about it), but also less likely to put you into an early grave because of a heart attack.
No, instead we have two of the league's more annoying superduperstars, Dwyane Wade of the Miami
Meat Heat (for my money the most unlikable fellow in the league today) and Kevin Durant of the Flyover State Hurricadanoes. Durant used to be a guy who was fairly easy to root for, with a world of talent and an easy charm about him, but years of not winning a title and having to play alongside the boorish Russell Westbrook have rubbed off on him in a bad way and now I find him kind of meh.
Your opinions of that assessment may vary. C'est la vie.
Anyway, shortly after Sports Illustrated basketball writers Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver put out a list of their top 100 ballers for the 2013-14 season, Durant took exception to Wade's place on the list as No. 8 overall and said that James Harden, his former teammate, should have been in the top-10 instead. Wade "fired back," shortly thereafter, with a tweet at Durant, where, bizarrely, he wrote a note to himself to work hard and remind Durant of his place in the NBA's historical hierarchy, again (a not-too-subtle shot to Durant that they beat him in the Finals two seasons ago). Durant, in turn, wrote back, "Show me, don't tweet me."
It's pretty silly why Wade would get worked up over such a thing. Switching spots with Harden isn't exactly a massive plunge, since the Rocket star is hanging around at No. 11, still ahead of past MVP's Derrick Rose and Dirk Nowitzki, as well as Marc Gasol, the reining Defensive Player of the Year, and Kyrie Irving, who might be most exciting young player in the league. It's also ahead of Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, Paul George, Kevin Garnett, and scores of others. Basically, it's not an insult to be labeled the 11th-best in the world at anything -- I'd love to be the 11th-best analogy maker, for example -- much less the 11th-best basketball player.
Wade, though, might be a tad miffed since SI's eighth place ranking made him the top player at his position, and Durant's 11th would slide Wade all the way to third, behind Harden and the currently-impaired Kobe Bryant. That's a legitimate dis when your ego is roughly the size of a Home Depot (and with just as few people inside Wade's circle brave enough to be real with him as there are employees in your average Home Depot). Or it could be that Durant specifically chose him to knock out of the top ten, without any hesitation at all. It was almost as if (gasp) he knew what the question from the interviewer would be well ahead of time and gave a rehearsed, scripted answer.
Now, OBVIOUSLY, we know this whole thing is a complete sham. The interviewer is some actor hired by Degree deodorant, which I'm sure they'll "cleverly" change the spelling to DeoDurant in some future marketing campaign because GET IT? that's his last name and they're almost spelled the same. Durant and Wade already have a shared marketing past, having done a Gatorade spot together, and Durant's friends with LeBron James, so it seems pretty unlikely that he'd just randomly rip his buddy's closest teammate.
Wade's tweet in protest and Durant's Mike Singletary-esque response seem scripted to the degree (no pun intended) of a CBS sitcom, where you see the "joke" coming a mile away. Now we have to wonder if there'll be enough backlash from the jaded internet basketball community where they'll decide to scrap whatever commercials they've inevitably already shot because this whole thing is going to come off like some bad Andy Kaufman-esque wrestler feud.
Still, just for the sake of argument, let's suspend all sense of logic and disbelief, take our cynic's hats off for a minute and pretend, just for kicks, that this whole thing wasn't so transparently staged. What would it mean then?
For starters, as Spurs fans it means that Durant respects Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, since he didn't pick them to be off the top-ten, even though the former sagged badly against the Thunder in the 2012 playoffs (games 3-5 in particular) and the latter is like, DNF (damn near forty to you un-hip types*). He did not want to stir our guys' hornets nest and give us any bulletin-board material, no sir.
Oh my god, you guys. Kevin Durant totally respects us. Group hug!
Or maybe his thought process (you know, the fake one that he didn't actually have) only went so far as, "My buddy Harden is a shooting guard, he's not in the top ten. So let me remove the only shooting guard in the list who is a top ten so it's an even one-for-one positional swap).
It could be that Durant rode for Harden as a way of not just supporting his friend but also to take a sly shot at GM Sam Presti for dealing him for practically nothing, and to team owner Clay Bennett for being cheap.
Personally though, if I was Durant and I was looking to raise some hell, I'd have said Harden should take Westbrook's spot. Imagine the controversy. Why light a fire under Wade's kiester when you could light one under your own teammate's instead?
Would Westbrook have used that motivation the right way, to fuel him toward being the best player he could be, or would he have tried to cave in Durant's face in a locker room brawl and refused to pass him the ball until 2018? I'm leaning toward the latter, and man would the aftermath of that make for a fascinating day on the interwebs.
Sadly, all of these hypotheticals will remain just that. This whole thing is fake. So blatantly, depressingly fake. It's just too bad that between their off-season workouts, their rec league games against high school JV squads, their runway shows and all their commercial shoots that these guys couldn't squeeze in time for some acting lessons.
Now that's acting, homes. I'd totally buy a beef between these guys. Or at least beef from them.
* Actually, nobody says DNF. I just made that up. You're not un-hip for not knowing that. But you're reading this, so chances are you're a Spurs fan and therefore completely un-hip on the scale of how the mainstream measures hip-ness.