There's no honor among professional athletes.
We, as Suns fans, have personal experience with what the dirty, dirty stench of cash money can do to a player. For months leading up to the start of free agency, Amar'e Stoudemire talked about how winning was the most important thing and that returning to Phoenix was his Plan A. However, once Donnie Walsh and James "Mongo Money Bags" Dolan came a-callin' with their fully guaranteed contract, well... winning wasn't quite as important anymore.
I don't blame Amar'e for taking the Knicks' money. But it was predictable. Athletes are pigeonholed as being greedy, and it's unsurprising when they follow that pattern. Amar'e was okay with being unsurprising. That's fine.
But Kevin Durant. Man, that guy's full of surprises. He's reportedly agreed to a five-year contract extension with the OKC Thunder, worth approximately $85 million depending on what the cap numbers end up being. The most shocking part is that Durant decided to forego a player opt-out option for the fourth year.
According to his agent, Aaron Goodwin,
"Kevin realized the commitment from Oklahoma City. So he wanted to make a commitment back to Oklahoma City to make the fourth year a non-issue."
There are a few reasons this development is such a refreshing glass of something refreshing. One, Oklahoma City is one of the smallest markets in which an NBA team resides. Two, an NBA player actually declined the chance to keep their options open. Three, Kevin Durant's one of the biggest stars in the NBA.
Overall, this NBA offseason has been marked by specks of loyalty, with Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, etc. all staying home. Dirk and Pierce even took less money to do it. However, they're old fogies near the ends of their careers. Though they're worth the money they're being paid, the days of cash money dreams are past them and they're looking for comfort and wins at this point.
So kudos for a young superstar like Durant saying "Eff you" to stereotypes and placing a premium on loyalty. Of course, it also helps that OKC has one of the best young cores in the game. The Thunder will be a force for a while and obviously Durant recognized that.