Wednesday was a day of celebration in New York with the Yankees, after facing outside threats from San Diego and San Francisco, striking a nine-year, $360-million deal with Aaron Judge, making the reigning AL MVP the highest-paid position player (at least in terms of annual salary) in MLB history. Even if the Yankees overpaid (reports indicate the Giants and Padres were both willing to go higher than the $40-million AAV offered by New York), Wednesday’s coronation can only be seen as a triumph of the highest order, keeping a franchise icon under the Bombers’ umbrella for, presumably, the remainder of his career.
The Yankees, of course, are broadcast locally on YES, the same network that airs Brooklyn Nets games during the NBA regular season. It was no surprise then that Kevin Durant, the Nets’ leading scorer at 29.8 points per game this season (sixth in the NBA), was asked to weigh in on Judge’s free agency following Brooklyn’s win over the visiting Hornets Wednesday night at Barclays Center. Rather than congratulate a fellow New York athlete for landing the deal of a lifetime, Durant gave a disinterested response, admitting that as a Washington Nationals fan (he grew up in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, an eastern suburb of D.C.), the Yankees are of little interest to him, even going as far as to say, “I don’t really care about Aaron Judge at all.”
Durant’s bluntness is nothing new to fans familiar with his sardonic sense of humor and deadpan delivery, though even the 34-year-old sensed he had crossed a line, taken aback by his own cruelness the moment the words left his mouth. Regretful of his harsh tone, the All-Star forward later issued an apology, insisting he’s happy for Judge and didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers.
KD has every right to root for his hometown Nats, but there’s a way to do that without being dismissive or unsupportive of Judge, a popular player who carries more weight with fans than Durant probably ever will in New York. Luckily, Judge isn’t particularly active on social media (he’s tweeted just three times since August), meaning there’s a good chance Durant’s rude dismissal and subsequent apology won’t get back to him, registering as a harmless non-story.
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