“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life. I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices. What I didn’t truly understand, however, was the range of emotions I would feel during this process.” – Kevin Durant
I vividly remember July 4, 2016. Like most NBA fans, I was hitting refresh multiple times on the Players Tribune website, hoping to be among the first to see the announcement of where Kevin Durant would be playing his next NBA season.
The buildup of KD’s reveal was hyped up for months. And the week of the big decision, KD was visited by six NBA teams to make their final pitches. Even though there were six teams visiting him in the Hamptons, everyone knew that only 3 teams were in the running to keep or land him.
First, his home team of Oklahoma City, where he could continue his legacy and work alongside his beast of a teammate Russell Westbrook to finish off what they’d started against both Lebron and the Warriors. Second, he could join the Celtics, whose pitch may have been the most intriguing with Tom Brady in the room. A Celtics squad armed with Kevin Durant screams of dethroning Lebron in the East. Or third, he could join the Golden State Warriors, the team who just beat him in the Western Conference Finals and was already considered one of the greatest teams of all time.
When Kevin Durant announced his decision on the Players Tribune, it was getting so many hits that it was virtually impossible to access it. After what seemed like an eternity, the page loaded and KD’s decision was announced, he would be joining the Golden State Warriors.
The collective jaws of the NBA community dropped, and the backlash began.
In light of that, I’d like to point out the 2 primary reasons Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors and what nonprofits can learn from them.
1. KD’s MISSION was to win a championship, and he did.
People criticize Kevin Durant for joining a superteam, but his decision was based on his mission to win a championship. Most would say he took a shortcut to fulfill his mission and ruined the game of basketball in doing so.
Nonprofits have a vision to fulfill, a mission to accomplish. Sometimes it requires going against the grain of what’s normal or acceptable to accomplish the mission. Innovation is scary and almost always comes with resistance. Be diligent, keep your focus on your mission and drown out all the noise that distracts you from doing so.
2. KD wanted to play unselfish basketball with a team of like-minded individuals.
The naysayers can hate on Kevin Durant all they want, but at the end of the day, he is playing basketball the way he wants with a group of players who play the same way. And the reason they’re so good is because they’re all extremely unselfish. They pass the ball, set screen after screen for each other and don’t care about who gets the last shot as long as they win together.
It can be difficult for nonprofits to assemble and keep together the right team to fulfill their mission, but it’s crucial. Often, Executive Directors place all the responsibility on their backs to carry the load, which leads to inefficiencies and fatigue. This is why nonprofits should look to collaborate with each other to fill in glaring gaps and surround themselves with the top talent in terms of staff, board members and volunteers. It takes a team of champions working together.