Kevin Durant, Warriors Don’t Care If You Think They’re Taking The Easy Way Out

by abournenesn

July 4, 2016

For better or worse, Kevin Durant’s legacy just completely changed.

The former Oklahoma City Thunder star agreed to join the Golden State Warriors on Monday, freeing himself of the burden of bringing OKC a trophy on the 240th anniversary of America freeing itself from England and becoming an independent nation.

As is the case when any player changes teams, people are angry. It’s escalated because Durant just formed his own personal super team — except that team already was super.

The Warriors are the two-time defending Western Conference champions. They also feature two-time defending MVP Stephen Curry and three All-NBA players in Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Now, the last man not named Curry to win an MVP has joined them.

We’ve seen superstars join other big-name players before. LeBron James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were traded to the Boston Celtics to form their own “Big Three.” Heck, every great championship-winning player has had another at his side — Larry Bird had Kevin McHale and Robert Parish; Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy; Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

But somehow, this feels different.

The latter four examples all involved draft picks or trades. For James, Wade still was a great player but wasn’t quite the explosive star he was as a younger man, and Chris Bosh was just an All-Star, not an all-timer.

Because of that, you’ll hear people, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, angrily ranting about why Durant is a loser, an undeserving (probable) eventual champion and how this hurts his legacy among the all-time greats. He took “the easy way out,” they’ll tell you — joining the team his Thunder had pinned against the wall in the conference finals, up three games to one, before caving and losing. Joining the team that beat you is what a weak-minded player and person does, they’ll say.

And those people are entitled to their opinions. They might even be right. But it doesn’t matter: Kevin Durant doesn’t really care what anyone thinks, and the Warriors don’t either. Nor should they.

If you listened to reports out of Durant’s camp over the last weeks and months, the only thing that mattered to him was winning a championship. That’s what was going to influence his decision most — not money, not business opportunities, not weather, not history, not loyalty. Just raising banners.

With all due respect to LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors have by far the most talented roster in the NBA. They have the best chance to win now, and will continue to do so with this group for the next decade.

So what if it hurts Durant’s legacy? He’s never been quite so egotistical to really give a damn what you think of him anyway.

The man wants to win. It’s what every kid has ever wanted since the moment they first stepped onto the court and pretended their jump shot was the game-winning, buzzer-beating point to win the NBA Finals.

Winning comes first, everything else comes later. Durant reminded everyone of that today.

Thumbnail photo via Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports Images

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
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