I've written in the past about the dichotomy of sports. How in the face of tragedy, like the recent Oklahoma tornadoes, these games men play are of little consequence, yet are a necessary distraction to the seriousness of everyday life.
Then when I see a gesture like the one made by Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, I know that sports are very important.
|Photo by: Getty Images|
KD didn't tweet that he was doing it. He didn't implore all the fans to donate their hard-earned money while sitting atop his closed wallet, as I've seen others do. He saw a need, and he filled it. Without fanfare, without hoopla, and without expecting anything in return.
Even positive press.
And before any of you start with the "when you make as much as he does, you can afford to do that" argument, consider this; that donation represents almost 6% of his annual salary. Have any of you pledged to donate 6% of your salary to anything other than your church lately? I haven't.
To put it in perspective, if you make $50,000 per year, that would equate to about a $3,000 donation. Most of us will be doing good to send $10 or $20 to the Red Cross for the victims.
I've seen athletes pledge, at best, $50,000 or $100,000 to causes like this before. I've also seen some show up at the disaster site and "help out" (translation - they were there because it was a good photo op for their agent to get them some positive PR). Most of those efforts are closely followed by the athlete or his handlers blasting out tweets and/or photos of how generous they are with their time and money.
Durant didn't announce anything about his donation, the Red Cross did. He did encourage everyone via his Twitter account to text the Red Cross a $10 donation, but made no mention of his generosity throughout the process.
This type of kindness and selflessness is rare in athletes these days. We live in a "look at me" society with a "what can you do for me" mentality. That's what makes Durant not only a special athlete, but a special person. It's why he is so loved in the state of Oklahoma.
Sure, the fans like what he can do with that little orange ball, too. But like sports themselves, those skills are secondary and somehow less important than his skills as a human being.