Kevin Durant altered the landscape of the NBA when he left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors. And the man tasked with stopping him in the 2017 NBA Finals helped make that possible.
When LeBron James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010, he universally was vilified. But James’ decision to create a superteam in South Beach is what made Durant’s jump to the Bay Area possible.
“Once LeBron made that decision, it took a lot of the brunt,” Billy King, the former general manager of the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, told Bleacher Report. “You sort of almost expect guys now to maybe leave and do what’s best for them.”
And while Durant didn’t consult James before his defection from Oklahoma City, he admits the Cavaliers forward’s move made it easier on him.
“He paved the way,” Durant said.
Durant hopes more players become comfortable following the path he and James have walked and choose not to listen to the outside noise.
“As time goes on, and the changes start to become normal, people will start looking at it as normal,” Durant said. “I hope and pray that they make a decision that’s best for them, and nobody else.”
The Warriors have dominated the first two games of the NBA Finals, placing Durant two wins away from an NBA championship that will come at the expense of the Cavaliers and their star forward.
All because James took his talents to South Beach seven years ago.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images