Untimely ends and difficult farewells have marked the summer of 2016 as an off-season of trades and transitions across the NBA. With the start of the 2016-2017 season looming, now is the time to finally address the demise of our favorite coaching combos and player partnerships. I have consulted experts from the tabloid arts industry to help communicate the shock, bitterness, and competitive impact of free agents and their apparent prioritization of championships over challenge. How better to reflect on the splits that rocked the off-season, than the tactics the tabloids used to make sense of Brangelina’s tragic breakup?
Diaw and Parker
After four years as teammates, and a lifetime as soul mates, Tony and Boris are splitting amicably, citing work and time apart as the cause. Tony and Bobo operated on their own wavelength. "It was like they spoke each other’s language, non?" said a reliable Francophile. Since childhood, they have celebrated many life events together, including a championship. When Boris moved to Phoenix, the idea of spending anniversaries apart was too much, and they wished each other au revoir. "Tony knows that he has to play through the pain. But until the season starts, he’s just listening to his hit single, "Premiere Love," on repeat and thinking of his Bobo Bear." The two will continue to be a part of each other’s lives, as Diaw has been granted visitation rights to Patty Mills.
Kerr and Walton
They were the golden couple that barely was; the May-December bromance that was over before it really began. Though they announced their conscious uncoaching in June, fans, who dubbed the pair "Kerrton," maintained hope that Steve Kerr and Luke Walton would find a way to overcome relocation and rivalries. However, rumors have revealed that Walton is rebounding with Metta World Peace. "They have a history. Luke isn’t thinking long-term yet, but he’s open to seeing what happens with Ronny—that’s what Luke calls him," said a source close to Walton. No longer living in the house that Kerr built, it is yet to be seen if Luke can find a new lease on his own team.
Durant and Westbrook
KD and Russ publicly parted ways in June, after eight years together. Speculation of troubles began when the two failed to take a planned trip to Cleveland. "They seemed really committed. They had their tickets to the Finals in hand earlier that week, but all of a sudden they just gave them away," confided an anonymous source. Despite presenting a united front during the post-season, rumors of Durant's wandering eye persisted. Kevin wantonly entertained admirers, while Russ stood by loyally at their home in Oklahoma City. Friends have rallied around Russell, saying, "This is not the end for him. As they say, there’s plenty of swish in the OK-C."
Wade and Bosh
After running in the same circles for years, a nudge from Lebron James ignited their relationship in 2010. Neither was afraid to sacrifice for the other. Chris moved to Miami for Dwyane. D stood by Chris’s side through medical woes, even calling Bosh his hero. Over time, Dwyane was logging more assists for Chris, and the heat between them cooled. "Chris wasn’t just the center on the court, he was the center of D’s world," confided a DWade Twitter follower. "It’s the same love and respect," Dwyane assured. "What we shared the last six years is irreplaceable."
The days of long-term commitments, like those of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban, and Kobe Bryant and…the Staples Center may be over. However, some players still understand the importance of staying together for the sake of the competition. Consider DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, Lob City associates since 2011. The two have never been secretive about their off-court conflicts, with both threatening to leave the other on multiple occasions. "Their relationship is like an alley-oop. Sometimes you feel stuck, but most of the time you’re right where you need to be." So, if they have a fight, and DJ spends the night at his parents’ house, Chris will show up the next morning. And if DeAndre loses his rings, Chris will help him find them.
As splits like these become more frequent and more public, fans lament, "Are players vowing only to take a team for better, for worth, for richer, for surer, in quickness and wealth, until max deals do us part? Should we maintain any faith in the sanctity of a market?" I am not sure who is to blame for the heartbreaks of falling out of lineup under intense public scrutiny. When a player comes or goes, let’s not pretend he is not chasing championships. Long-term player commitments (and teams’ commitments to players) are a luxury, not an expectation. In the end, the name on the back of the jersey does not last as long as the logo on the jersey (exception: pick a logo, Pistons). Kevin Durant described this frustrating trend best when he said: