Kevin Durant’s legacy is complicated.
He’s without question one of the best NBA players of all time, but joining the Golden State Warriors as a free agent after they won 73 games in the 2015-16 season was a weak move.
Durant has won back-to-back championships and a pair of NBA Finals MVP awards with the Warriors, but those accomplishments still haven’t vaulted him into the pantheon of the elite NBA legends.
Many current and former players have criticized Durant’s decision to join the Warriors, and New York Knicks legend and two-time champion Walt Frazier took it a step further with his recent comments.
“Durant, as great a player he is, I would still hold back (giving him credit) because he joined a team that really didn’t need him,” Frazier said Tuesday during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “He’s right there with LeBron, probably would’ve surpassed LeBron as the best player in the game soon, but for him doing that I still don’t give him the full credit he probably would’ve deserved if he stayed in OKC and won a title with that team.”
When Frazier was asked where Durant would go on his all-time player rankings, he said “(Durant’s) going to be down the list for me because of that. There will be an asterisk next to his name.”
There will never be an asterisk next to Durant’s name in the record books, but many players and fans will put their own asterisk next to his name whenever they reflect on his Warriors career. Instead of taking that one final step with the Oklahoma City Thunder after they lost to the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 Western Conference finals, KD took the easy way out and joined a team that would’ve won the last two NBA Finals without him.
LeBron James didn’t join a 73-win team full of champions when he went to the Miami Heat, nor did he do that when he came back to Cleveland, or when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers last month. He built the Heat and Cavaliers into championship-caliber teams.
Durant’s resumé will be among the very best ever when he retires, but he’ll never enter the GOAT conversation because of his 2016 free-agent decision. The only way to eliminate that “asterisk” would be for him to go to a team as the No. 1 guy and build a champion.
Maybe Durant could do it with Frazier’s Knicks if he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2019?
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images