Kevin Durant is going to be a free agent in the summer of 2016, and you're going to hate it. By itself, the prospect of the second-best player in the league moving back home to Washington, DC or to some other city to form a now-unforeseeable mega-team is interesting enough to daydream about. But its inherent interestingness will be lost like a dash of salt in a roadkill stew before the 2015-16 season is even complete. Angles will be hashed and rehashed; sources will say; writers and reporters will bare their nitwitdom and somehow remain both employed and respected (Oh look, it's already happened once!); All of the speculation and commentary will be ephemeral—will anyone look back on the works LeBronWatch 2014 inspired?—and even in the moment, it won't be all that satisfying or fun.
No one in particular seems to enjoy free agency fever or trade rumor hysteria. I guess media hacks—SportsCenter producers, vulturous bloggers, your permanently aggrieved local columnist—are pleased that they've got some audience-drawing big story about which to say nothing of substance. Whatever journo breaks the story that Franchise Player had a meeting with Team Owner gets a public profile boost—it seems like those guys might value themselves by Twitter followers. But on the consumer end, who isn't complaining whenever a great player might be on the move? We are all grousing on one level or another—about loyalty, or bad taste, or Why So Much Money?, or the coverage, or the reaction to the coverage. We would all like this to go away until someone has made up his damn mind, and yet there we are, refreshing Woj's feed in case some one has made up their damn mind now... or how about... now.
Adulthood is when you realize that if your life choices batting average dips too low, you could end up friendless and dead. You come into a fuller possession of self that is less empowering and more terrifying than you thought it would when you were shackled by a regimented sleep schedule and limited ice cream access. This is because being the self that you want to be—that is, someone who does stuff that's good for you and avoids stuff that's not—isn't clear-cut. (I remember human smugness molecule Colin Cowherd once saying something on his radio show like, "Just take ten minutes every day to sit in a comfortable chair, maybe have a cigar, and realize that life isn't all that hard" and thinking it was the most small-minded bullshit I'd ever heard, even though—or maybe especially because—I was 14 at the time.) Sports are supposed to buoy us, to bring us joy or at least arrest our attention in ways other things don't. But, if it's meant only to make our lives more manageable—adult playtime—then why do so many of us follow it over the proverbial waterfall and allow it to batter us against the rocks? Why do we, knowing the hazard is real and avoidable, feel entitled to gripe about our injuries?
Changing yourself is hard, even when you know you should change. I've spent the better part of the past week not-reaching for my phone. You might think what I'm doing right now is "writing," but that's not completely true. I'm always now not-reaching; the word-making is secondary. I'm not-reaching because there's no endgame in reaching. It's a tic, not a thing I need to do because it will make me happier. I know it's better to work, so I work. Even if that's not what I want to be doing.
My point being: Holy shit, when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent in 2016 and the media crush blocks out the sky, we should run away from it (Metaphorically. Maybe physically; a person who goes for a run every time Chris Broussard shows up for a month will end that month a fitter, fleeter person). We should ignore whatever rumors circulate about where Durant's allegiances lie and his "sometimes contentious" relationship with Russell Westbrook. None of that stuff matters; it's informational aspartame. The only consequential thing that will come out of DurantWatch 2016 is its conclusion: He's proud to announce he's staying in Oklahoma City for another five years or he goes to Houston or whatever. In the gossipy period before that, when you're think you're asking for knowledge, all you're requesting is low-level aggravation.
You know all this, and yet, and yet. Sports fans, along with everyone else in modern society, have been conditioned to want to know Important Things all the time, and to bang their collective heads against various news-shaped walls in search of it. You will fail to utterly ignore DurantWatch 2016 and piffle like it because you're a human, and humans are weak. But you should give it your best shot, because it'll be a small step toward a less inanity-pocked existence. Here, let's try together.
Follow Colin McGowan on Twitter.