Kevin Durant’s on the move and heading to The Bay. Just weeks after losing to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, the NBA’s most sought after free agent made the “exceptionally difficult” decision to join the winningest team in NBA history.
If I said I saw this coming, I’d be lying.
I believed Durant would re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder for one additional season. I believed he and Russell Westbrook were soooo close to dethroning the kings of the West, they’d be motivated to make one final run as a duo. And if they failed again, they’d break up the band and go their separate ways next season; when Westbrook also hits the market. However, based on his The Players’ Tribune announcement, it appears Durant believed otherwise.
The four-time scoring champion cited his desire to improve his growth as a player as a primary reason for his decision. I interpret that as an indictment on Westbrook’s me-first, ball dominant style of play. After teaming up with his bro for the past eight seasons, and appearing in one NBA Finals and four Western Conference Finals together, he’s closing the door on that chapter. He’s finally acknowledging that despite his love for Westbrook, their playing styles don’t complement each other. And as someone who’s benefited from multiple personal accolades, it’s time to win by any means necessary.
Yes, as fans we hate the idea of super teams forming and dominating the league. So-called basketball purists like ourselves enjoy pretending as if Magic, and Bird and MJ did it alone, when nope they didn’t. Or, we like to ignore the reasons why Barkley and Ewing and Miller are heralded among the greats, but never earned the right to be called a champion. Those coming for Durant’s neck are likely the same LeBron James apologists who turned a blind eye to him teaming up with a championship winning Miami Heat organization. And yet, you want to ask, how can you respect Durant, the 2014 MVP, joining forces with the 2015 and 2016 MVP, Stephen Curry?
My response: you don’t have to.
But what you must respect is Durant’s decision to control his own destiny. You must respect Durant’s decision to give zero f***s about anyone’s criticism. You must respect Durant’s decision to choose his life path based on what’s most important to him. Just because Durant’s making $27 million per year, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t crave the same desires of living a life of happiness and fulfillment as us thousandaires. And apparently, Durant has defined that for himself as choosing to win a championship, above all else, rather than remain loyal to OKC in the eyes of fans, media, team management, and Oklahoma City.
Someone dug up a 2010 tweet from a then 21-year-old Durant criticizing super teams in an effort to highlight his hypocrisy, I suppose.
Durant in 2010: I don’t like super teams
Durant in 2016: joins 73-win team with Curry/Klay/Dramond pic.twitter.com/0iXpSdz32v
— The Sports Quotient (@SportsQuotient) July 4, 2016
Man, I sure hope no one ever takes the time to scour my twitter archives to point out how often I’ve changed my mind over the last six years. Sheesh. The judgement in these twitter streets has no chill, even on Independence Day. Oh, the irony.
Players who are in a position to chase rings and not just paper, are shameless about their focus, nowadays. As Cutty from the greatest show ever made, “The Wire”, once said, “The game done changed.” And as fans, we will deal.
Durant’s decision might not be right (to you), but it’s ok.
If Lil B The Based God can accept this, you can too.