Reports are saying Kevin Durant’s Olympic experience was “therapeutic” for him. They go on to say the move to Golden State will be good, because he can blend in with other high profile talents and just play basketball.
I actually know what he mean. I have talked to former Jazz players who stayed in Utah after retirement and said it can be trying to remain – especially when it’s a smaller market. One former player told me he couldn’t buy gas without someone commenting, or put groceries in a shopping cart without people snooping.
I believe that’s partly why players like Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton originally left Utah. If you’re a celebrity in Utah, you’re always under a microscope. If you’re in L.A., it’s a bit easier to blend in. Famous people sightings aren’t a rarity in bigger cities.
In Stockton’s case, he went back to his hometown of Spokane, where he’s largely viewed as just “John,” who grew up there.
Durant was getting at is that in the Bay Area, it’s not all on him. People might focus on the 49ers, A’s or Giants instead of the Warriors. Or they might focus on Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry.
In my experience, I’ve come to understand there really are famous athletes who would rather just be athletes. And to be treated normally. That’s hard to do in this era.
On the other hand, I doubt they want to go back to the old days when athletes weren’t so special. Harmon Killebrew once told me he worked in a shoe store during the off-season.
That’s a little more “average” than I think most of today’s athletes would like to get.