This story is strictly my opinion on Kevin Durant’s signing with Golden State and what it means for his legacy.
One Year at Texas
I remember watching Durant in his one year at Texas. What sticks out to me is the rapid improvement he made when conference play started in January. Compared to the first few times I saw him in the 2006-2007 season. He just started dominating the Big12.
In The 2007 season the Big12 was filled with quality veteran defensive teams. Overall I think from then to now, it might have been the deepest the conference has been. Durant was dominant. Living up to the hype and being drafted 2nd overall by Seattle in the 2007 NBA draft.
OKC: The rise of the Thunder
Seattle was relocated to Oklahoma City. Which is a story unto itself. That story can be told from multiple perspectives. I guess so can this one. This is just my perspective of events. So I assume everyone knows about K.D in OKC. He and fellow teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden first made the playoffs in 2010. Facing the World champion and eventual back to back champion L.A Lakers. They played out of their minds taking the Lakers to 6 games before finally succumbing to the champs. It was an amazing first playoff appearance.
OKC was an 8th seed in 2010 with high draft picks with raw ability beginning to adjust to the NBA. For Westbrook and Durant, they were adjusting to stardom and fast becoming focal points that needed to be stopped by the opposition. As a unit The Thunder were young and adjusting to each other trying to build chemistry as a unit.
The NBA Finals
Kevin Durant was the unquestioned catalyst of this now proclaimed up and coming team. They reached their personal pinnacle in 2012. Winning the Western Conference. In the finals K.D would have his first Finals encounter with contemporary superstar and media proclaimed fellow player of a generation Lebron James. When the dust settled on the 2012 NBA finals, the Miami Heat walked away champions. Giving Lebron James his first championship and Finals MVP award. It only took the Heat 5 games to stop the storm that was the Thunder.
The 2012 Finals had some down to the wire finishes, but in the end OKC was just too young. Everyone from fans to analysts thought like the Orlando Magic of the mid 90s that there time was on the horizon. Sooner rather than later. Pun intended. The fans could feel it, I could feel it through them on television. The Thunder had next. They had an electric and exciting team. It’s stars were 5 years away from their primes and they were already serious contenders. Everyone saw them as the successors to the aging Spurs. Golden State was barely on anyboday’s radar. Then OKC, they trade James Harden. Not long after you start to hear
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant couldn’t stand to be around one another. They denied it every chance they got, even after Kevin left. At the following years all star game after jabs at each other were exchanged, they acted like best buds. Which to anyone watching obviously was fake. No one goes out of their way to act friendly like that!Strictly for the camera.
So between 2013-2015, OKC didn’t go back to the finals. Losing in the west semis and west finals respectively. Then because Durant only playing 27 games in 2015, they didn’t even make the playoffs. In the 2016 playoffs they were up 3 games to 1 against the defending champion and record setting 73 win Golden State Warriors. They would lose the series in 7 games. The player who K.D had been compared with for half a decade. The same player who defeated him in his only Finals appearance, Lebron James. Two years after returning to Cleveland, James would go and lead the Cavs to an NBA championship. Lebron’s 3rd championship in 5 years. Each also delivering The King a Finals mvp award.
In 2016 The Cavs became the only team ever to come back from down 3-1 in the finals to win a championship. Lebron James had returned to Cleveland and led the city to its first major sports championship since the Browns of 1964.
Lebron vs. Durant
Durant’s rival, Lebron James had just made history. Coming back from 3-1. The previous round Kevin’s Thunder, against the same opponent had just squandered a 3-1 lead. In the 5 seasons since Durant faced off against Lebron James in the 2012 Finals. He hadn’t returned to the Finals while the player he was most often compared too won three NBA titles. James had just played out the most significant moment of his historic career. Defeating the defending champion. The record setting 73 win unbeatable defending champion! Won in Cleveland, a city starving for a title. Then pretty much apologized for leaving in the first place. A Michael Jordan type of moment, the one Lebron needed to solidify his legacy to any doubters still speaking ill of him. All that would be heard from there on in was CLEEEVVeLLLAAANND!
Durant’s answer to winning
So what now for Kevin Durant? He was a free agent. No one would have blamed him for leaving OKC. Not outside their fanbase atleast. What he did, as everyone knows is sign with the same 73 win Warriors team I just talked about. It was in my opinion the dumbest and weakest move any star has ever made! No matter how many championships he won. Everybody knew the Warriors not only would win but by adding one of the three best basketball players in the world, to the best, they couldn’t lose!
The NBA pantheon of greatness
In the NBA, how you win and how much you win is vital to a player’s legacy. It’s what ranks and separates the stars of the past and gives insight to the present and future stars of the game on what is expected to achieve historic greatness. It comes down to the NBA and all it’s past, saying “How good are you young man, show me, I’m the NBA, let’s see how good you really are. Where will you stand, amongst the greatest to ever play when I say your career’s over.”
In 1989 and 1990, Michael Jordan was defeated in the conference finals by
the three time Eastern conference champion and back to back NBA champion Bad Boy Pistons. Who used what they called the Jordan Rules to beat Chicago. In both of those years especially 1990 Jordan was hounded by the media. No scoring champ can lead his team to a title. All he does is score. He was down and frustrated because of this. He worked his ass off. Mike was in the weight room and working on his game. His game and his body. He worked while picturing Chicago beating the Pistons.
Then in 1991 he did it, a sweep. Now does anyone think Jordan at any point thought about joining the Pistons? I mean if he was forced to, he probably would have quit first! What Kevin Durant did by joining the Warriors is like turning on a video game, then going to the options menu and setting the difficulty to easy. The history of the NBA will never recognize him in the same breath as the other greats. As time goes on, respected pundits of the game will give him less and less credit. In my opinion, it will be well deserved.
Stacking the Deck
What he did should not be compared to Lebron going to Miami. When James left for Miami he joined a team that either didn’t make the playoffs or made a 1st round exit every year since their 2006 title. I didn’t condone Lebron’s decision when it was happening. He did makeup for it. That Cavalier ring is going to go farther to cement his legacy than either one from Miami. Let’s get it straight Lebron going to a maybe playoff team in a weaker conference has no comparison at all to what Kevin Durant did!
If I could tell one thing to Kevin Durant, it would be the term IF YOU CAN’T BEAT EM JOIN THEM is not meant to be taken literally. It is meant figuratively! No matter how much he wins in Oakland, it will never count the same as the other great players and their rings. Their will be a figurative asterisk to whatever he accomplishes. If you ask me there should be an actual asterisk.
Dear Mr. Durant
In the Final Destination movies you can’t cheat death.Well Mr. Durant same applies to the historical records of the NBA, and the players honored within it’s pantheon. It and they will not be cheated. You will not go down in the same breath as them! Don’t care how many rings you acquire. let’s use Dirk as an example. His ring will mean more than all of yours in Golden State combined. What you did barely means more than if you bought a ring off a retired player like your head coach or Robert Horry. It’s ashame too because you have improved your game even more since leaving OKC. Maybe you can do something in Brooklyn to offset your previous choices.