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Kevin Durant and negligent management: When do we need to save employees from themselves?


The NBA community was robbed the other night. Literally robbed. Robbed of an amazing talent who may or may not ever be the same again. Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware of the grave injury suffered by Kevin Durant during game 5 of the NBA finals.


Anybody who saw the original injury on May 9th, said, “Looks like an Achilles injury and not the otherwise reported “calf strain”. After not having played for a month and before going through any full practice sessions, KD took the court again. Yes, it was a close out game, and yes, he’s one of the top 3 players in the world but why play Russian roulette with the man’s career?


And while some people have said, athletes play injured all the time, there’s a major difference between a dislocated finger, sore ankle, or the flu, and playing with an injury which could rob a man of his profession in the prime of his life.


Imagine a friend who has been drinking all night. Maybe he passes a simple sobriety test. Maybe he can walk a straight line, touch his nose, or recite the A,B,C’s, but should he be behind the wheel of a car?! If he insisted on driving, would any good friend say, “well I guess it’s ok, he wants to”.


Sometimes in life we must save people from themselves. This is one of the challenges managers face, with regards to when should they let an employee fail if they see a major mistake coming. Often, it’s hard to learn a lesson unless you’ve gone through the mistake. But sometimes the mistake is so grave it simply can’t be undone. Letting an employee try something they insist will be beneficial but seeing the outcome through the lens of your experience is a tricky balancing act. But in certain situations, the potential damage far outweighs the idea that you as a manager should be open minded and willing to let employees’ experiment.


Every sports pundit worth their salt doubted if KD would be healthy enough to come back to the series. Everyone knew of the potential disaster which an injury of that nature could lead to. KD wanted to play? So what! In the aftermath, everyone feels bad and is “accepting responsibility”. That’s not going to help him. They should have never let him on the court in the first place.


Great management and great leadership often involve making tough and unpopular decisions. In this case the Warriors management did neither and their colossal negligence cost Kevin Durant.


As the saying goes, “Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement”.

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