Really, Kevin? Can’t Beat ‘Em?

(twelve-minute read)
One of the good guys, from what I can tell. Wearing the dark hat (and a bullseye) now: Kevin Durant.

One of the good guys, from what I can tell. Wearing the dark hat (and a bullseye) now: Kevin Durant.

Young sir, may I call you Kevin?

I’m sure They have been calling him lots worse, though I’m not looking under bridges to check. I’m guessing “traitor” and “chickenshit” and “turncoat” and “ungrateful bastard” are making the more printable lists. “Benedict Arnold” might be favoured by those who know a little American history.

So: Basketball Star Kevin Durant Signs Free-Agent Contract With Golden State Warriors. There’s your lede, not going to bury it. This being July 5th, it’s no longer news in the antic spin-dry cycle of what-have-you-hot-taken-from-me-lately entertainment/journalism. But to me it’s still novel, a bit shuddery and uncomfortable, sort of bewildering yet all-too-familiar, a cause of naive dismay and even a spur to misplaced and minor outrage. Hey, wanna come along? 

This is literally unmediated. I haven’t had the chance to filter my jangled thoughts through what must have been a torrential downpour in the Twitterverse sports teacup, a tempest in the chatrooms and sports blogs of the world. (At least in North America, this must have outdone Iceland over England by far, and may have even outstripped Trump and cute animals for an Internet spell.) I spent the very best part of yesterday hanging around in my corner of Ottawa with some of the finest young people you’d ever want to know, and many of them barely know who Kevin Durant is. The day was about selfless service. Voluntarism. Youth leadership by the young. (Hence, I wasn’t much more than a bystander, but an inspired and committed one.) Moral purpose. Community. Educational vision. Societal transformation. All that grassroots jazz. (And walking. Lots of walking.) There was no time for Twitter.

But some of the youngsters do know KD, and their phones are smarter than mine is. As we hunted for idealists in Overbrook on the fourth of July,

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The Reason for Driveways

Today, in my driveway, an ungainly apparatus appeared. Wheeled out of my neighbours’ garage, where it had lain in secret for several days, our family basketball goal now dominates our front approaches. (There isn’t much competition.) As is well and proper, our car has been banished to the curb. For the first time since I was 17 at Mom and Dad’s, I have a hoop at my house and, thanks to clever cranks and levers, I can still grab the rim. Thanks, Sam!

Samuel Justice – Number Four Son in your program, tied for first in my heart – turned six today, and we’ve honoured it with a home court. We got through three big brothers without one, somehow. Most often, there just wasn’t a driveway where we lived, but the main reason was that I was the local high school coach and community hoops maven. I had keys to the gym. The older guys got all the basketball they wanted; Ben and Dave were done with competition by grade 10, and Will put down his ball after three years on the high school varsity. We’ll see how long Sam keeps at it. I try to care less, and it seems to work.

This week, he’s going to the Olympics. He has a crazy energy and my-way stubbornness that feels athletic: a long way from coachable, but who needs that when he’s six and just wants to play? His travelling, quadruple-dribbling and truly eccentric version of one-on-one is a blast to play because he laughs the whole time. (He madly chuckled, too, throughout the goofy hockey games on our Tiny Perfect Backyard Rink™ last winter.) He’d rather shoot the ball like his buddy from Sunday school than the way silly old Coach Dad suggests, and he’s so proud when he makes that string music. Thank you, Mr. Naismith! Fathers and sons and driveway hook shots have to be the reason your game was invented. (Either that, or to feed Latrell Sprewell’s family.)