He's gone.

Those two words wrecked the last 24 hours of my life. I didn't sleep well, despite the Nets' actually beating a Chicago team that ALWAYS beats us. I ate WAY too much chocolate, despite having managed to lose more than 25 pounds in the last few months. I didn't kiss my wife OR my dog (to be clear, I don't have a dog). I listened to Barry Manilow's greatest hits, on CD! Could It Be Magic and Copacabana are his two best songs, easily. Mostly, though, I grieved. That meant not listening to the NBA channel on Sirius/XM, not watching Around The Horn, PTI or NBA Today (I don't want to even see Perk's face). I did not open NetsDaily and I only listened to true crime podcasts, yesterday.

To be clear, I have never met Kevin Durant. He doesn't know me, as best I can tell. We don't follow each other on any social media site and I expect there are more than six degrees of separation between us. However, none of that matters. Kevin Durant's presence on the Brooklyn Nets, my favorite team in all of professional sports, was not simply the bright spot in my world of entertainment. Kevin Durant's presence on the Brooklyn Nets was the reification of every title aspiration each of us as Nets fans has had since the days of Dr. J (all hail Julius!), Jason Kidd and the move to Brooklyn.

It took me a great deal of time, effort and energy just to get to this point that I could even write the man's name. Crestfallen, crushed, butthurt, angry, disappointed, disillusioned and so many more adjectives all come to mind as I mull over the journey I've taken since hearing the news, yesterday morning. It didn't matter that we traded away a boatload of talented and cohesive players. It didn't matter that we lost James Harden and picked up broke-down Ben. It didn't matter that we lost Kyrie (actually, that felt kind of good). It didn't matter because we had Kevin Durant.

Now, he's gone. Reflexively, I blame myself. I should have been a better fan. I should have followed him on his IG. I should have done SO many things differently. At some point, I will let go of the guilt for my failings, I hope. What I also hope is that I will let go of this empty and deflating reality that he's gone.