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July 2010: LeBron James spurns the city of Cleveland with “The Decision,” leaving his hometown Cavs for the Miami Heat. The city reacts predictably but horribly. Tears, screams, and of course, burning of LeBron jerseys and merchandise. His “We Are All Witnesses” sign is removed, and people in Cleveland swear him off forever.
July 2014: LeBron James announces his return to the Cavs. Thousands of idiots have to go re-spend $100+ to buy LeBron jerseys, shirts, and shoes that they all owned four years ago. Because they’re idiots.
Even if LeBron had ridden out the rest of his days in Miami, won another title or two before D-Wade’s knee turned into ash, and forsaken Cleveland forever, they’re still idiots. Because burning jerseys and other sports merchandise is for children.
Kevin Durant has been the latest target for jersey burning. And listen, I get it. Sports hurt. They hurt like hell. And I can’t say I’m pleased with his choice, just from a casual fan’s perspective. Can’t imagine what it feels like to be an OKC fan right now.
I’ve watched guys leave my teams. I watched the Twins lose Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. I watched them give away David Ortiz. Sometimes it feels like stupidity on your team’s part; other times it feels like betrayal or immense frustration towards the player. It can be seething, or it can be just sad. Regardless, it hurts.
But grow up. Burning a jersey? Burning shoes? Doing anything besides going on a massive Twitter/Facebook rant or crying into your pillow when no one is watching? Come on, dude. Give it to charity. Sell it. Throw it in the back of your closet to wear if he exercises an opt-out and returns someday. Sports have made me angry and they’ve made me cry, but burning a jersey or anything else is goddamn foolish.
I’d be mad as hell. But not only is burning a jersey childish, it makes the player who left say, “Oh man, maybe I made a better decision than I thought.” If you break up with your significant other and they throw all your shit on the lawn and burn it, how sorry are you really going to feel?
We need to be better and more critical thinking sports fans than this. Does it suck that he spurned OKC to start an evil empire with Golden State? Absolutely. But did the guy also give years of hard play, a Finals appearance, and endure brutal injury rehab to OKC? Absolutely. It’s not as if he pulled a Gilbert Arenas and said, “Thanks for all the money, here’s nothing.” The man earned the right to make a decision that’s best for him.
Maybe he wanted the best chance for a ring. Maybe he hated the shit out of playing with Russell Westbrook. I wouldn’t blame him for either. I don’t agree with it, as I’m sure OKC fans don’t, but as one of the five best players in the NBA, it was his choice to make. Frustrating, yes. Worth acting like a dumbass and committing small-scale arson because you think it makes you a dedicated sports fan? No.
If you’re an OKC fan, or even an NBA fan, be mad. Boo the absolute shit out of him and the rest of the whiny-ass Warriors when they come to town. Personally, I think it’s disappointing for the sake of competition to have KD in Golden State. To be an OKC fan who came one game away from The Finals and made a solid draft-day play for Victor Oladipo only to see your championship team disintegrate like a fart is rough as hell.
But be better than burning shit. Give it to charity; lord knows there’s needy kids/adults that can use it. Hell, burning all those OKC Durant jerseys is robbing 2026 University of Oklahoma frat guys of sweet throwbacks to day-drink in. Desecrate it with tape, have it to hold up and make him remember when he comes to visit. But grow up and don’t burn it. You’re better than that..
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