Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors took the basketball world by storm. It was a massive, unprecedented decision. Sure, other superstars had left their NBA teams in the past – such as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett leaving Seattle and Minnesota, respectively, or LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami.
But those players left for teams where they had other superstars awaiting them. In contrast, Durant left a team where he already had a superstar partner and an excellent supporting cast, a team that was arguably in championship contention – and that’s one of the reasons people are criticizing him.
But why shouldn’t he have left?
Critics across the NBA realm have been quick to demonize the Warriors, as they added Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. The Warriors already feature reigning league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, All-Star sharpshooter Klay Thompson, and All-Star forward Draymond Green. But don’t be so quick to criticize them; look at it from another angle.
Kevin Durant is 28 years old. He spent nine years in the service of the Oklahoma City Thunder (previously the Seattle Supersonics) – nine frustrating years that saw the Thunder make multiple playoff runs, but never once raising the Larry O’Brien trophy. Nine years of loyal, uncomplaining hard work. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Wanda Durant, KD’s mother, said, “For nine years, he refused to speak a word against that team—he loved those guys and that city.”
Yet his frustration is understandable. The Oklahoma City front office, after the loss of star combo guard James Harden, didn’t attempt to add a new, established star – instead, they just kept getting younger and younger.This lack of perceived support from his front office frustrated Durant, as he noted in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.
And you have to consider where he’s at in his career right now. According to FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO system, which projects how any given NBA player’s career will play out based on the careers of similar players from the past, Kevin Durant will only start declining from here on as he gets older – the average NBA player peaks around 28-30 years of age and starts declining, in terms of on-court production, from there.
He was unable to raise the Larry O’Brien championship trophy with the Thunder, where he spent a lot of his prime. As he gradually approaches his decline, he needed to get the heck out of OKC, and join an established team that can win instead of extending his contract and committing to the Thunder for a few more years of his prime.
I’m sorry for the Thunder fans out there. But Kevin Durant devoted eight years of his life to the inception of this franchise. OKC Thunder general manager Sam Presti rightly called him “a founding father” of the franchise. Without him, the Thunder might well have been an insignificant team in a small market.
His franchise cornerstone role has given rise to one of the dominant criticisms against him. Many see it as a sign of disloyalty that he left the franchise. Bollocks! People need to realize he’s human too – he wants future generations to remember him, he wants to carve his own legacy as a champion!
It’s true – he’s already considered one of the all-time greats. But while his legacy may have remained questionable in Oklahoma, winning a title with the Warriors (odds 4-5 as of Oct. 24 according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) would cement his place in history.
With a net worth of $120 million, Kevin Durant didn’t do it for the money. He sure as hell doesn’t need any more – $120 million is more than enough to last several lifetimes. He didn’t do it out of spite for OKC, the city that “truly raised” him. He did it because he’s human. He did it because he wanted to reach the ultimate goal of any NBA player – that of being a champion. He’s pursuing his dream, his crowning jewel – something all too many people give up on. After struggling with injuries for 6 months during the 2014-15 NBA season, it’s about time he goes after his dream. Let’s support him. Let him inspire us.