Ethics Hero, Mother’s Day Division: NBA MVP Kevin Durant

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Just in time to temporarily relieve the National Basketball Association from public exposure of its expediency, hypocrisy and criminalization of thought, and also just in time for Mother’s Day, Oklahoma Thunder forward Kevin Durant delivered an ethics slam-dunk of an acceptance speech when he was honored with the league’s Most Valuable Player Award.

‘Tis not always thus. Another NBA great, Michael Jordan, revealed the bleakness of his character in his nauseating speech upon being admitted to pro basketball’s Hall of Fame, settling old grudges and celebrating himself. Durant, in glorious contrast, was graceful, humble, sincere, gracious, and filled with gratitude, particularly toward his mother, who was in the audience. It takes a sense of fairness, respect and perspective, as well as confidence,  to use the spotlight at an event that honors you to shift attention to others, and that is what Durant did. His speech itself is proof that his mother raised him well, and his words drove the message home:

“One my best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, we all just sat in the living room and just hugged each other. We thought we made it. … You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summertime, making me run up a hill, making me do push-ups. Screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at eight or nine years old … When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

Here is his entire speech, displaying an ethical character that can’t be faked.

Mother’s Day Reflections On A Wonderful Mother With Flawed Ethics

My mom and Ma Barker had some things in common.

I am spending this Mothers Day in mourning, as today is the first time I have had to experience the holiday without a mother. My mom died earlier this year, as I mentioned here at the time, and she has been buried for less than a month. My mother used to be a regular feature of my ethics seminars, as I would reference her whenever I talked about the so-called “Mom Test,” one of the three famous ethics tests that are useful to set off sluggish ethics alarms, the other two being the Gut Test (“Does this feel wrong?”) and the New York Times Test (“Would I be willing to see my conduct on the front page of the New York Times?”). The “Mom Test” is whether you could tell your mother about your ethically-dubious conduct without hesitation or shame, and I often told my classes that with some mothers, like my own, this test didn’t work very well. “My mother,” I would explain, “has the ethics of Ma Barker.” I was only partially kidding. Continue reading