Loyalty is a very interesting word. Something you seek for in relationships, friendships, family, but does that exist in professional sport, in this particular post - the NBA?
I will try to give you a few examples of trades that happened in the last few years in the league and hope to open a discussion about this particular topic.
Let's get started from the most recent one - DeMar DeRozan got traded to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. A guy that spent nine years proudly wearing the Raptors jersey. The same guy who was promised that the trade wouldn't happen only a few days before it actually happened. "Be told one thing, and the outcome another. Can't trust them. Ain't no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing". This is what he wrote himself after finding out he was traded. A promise, project for a future and a trade, seems harsh?
Then we have the other side of the same trade - Leonard. He was drafted as the 15th pick in 2011. by the Spurs, and he became one of the best two-way players in the NBA. He was one of the main reasons for the championships in 2014, and he got an MVP award for that. All thanks to his hard work and Gregg Popovich. But then the injury came in that series with Warriors, "the Pachulia move", and that got him sidelined with the injury. Then tried to come back, couldn't, and when the time came for him to sign a new long-term deal he and his entourage decided to leak the word to the press that he isn't satisfied and that he wants to leave. Prefered the Lakers, but Spurs didn't want to boost Western rivalry and sent him to the East. This time, no loyalty from the player to the team that made him.
Two more examples left. Isaiah Thomas, the Boston season. Thanks to this guy, the Celtics played great basketball. He was one of their leaders on the court and in season 2016/17 he led them to the playoffs. Then, right before the first round vs Chicago, he found out his younger sister Chyna had died in the car crash. And no, he didn't take time off, he again led the team to the second round, and before the games against Washington flew to her funeral. Scored 53 points in game two, got the team in the Eastern finals and then couldn't endure the injury problems. Yes, he played in spite of the injury and the tragedy. How did they thank him - by trading him to Cleveland! Business wise, no-brainer, to get Kyrie Irving one of the best playmakers in the world is an easy decision. But the same question stays - what about loyalty?
And last, but not the least - Kevin Durant. In 2016 playoffs Oklahoma had 3:1 lead against Warriors. Lost next three games, and then he became a free agent. Free to choose what does he want. Decided to go to the team that had the best chances of getting the championship - the Golden State. Did that move ruin the league, and how did it affect everything is a different story. Point of telling it here is simply the freedom he had. Despite spending nine years in the Sonics/Thunder jersey, went to chase the trophy. Chose, at that moment, easiest route, but it was all on him. Speculations say that Sam Presti and the team prepared trades, wanted to improve the team and give them another run at the title but he just didn't want to wait. Picked his own faith, already got two rings, will probably get more with the team they have. But then again, another example - where is the loyalty of the player to the team that helped him be who he is?
Can debate and discuss all this but the same question from the headline remains - is loyalty just a word in the NBA or does it really exist?