After Kevin Durant made his fateful decision to alter his career and join the Golden State Warriors, many people around the league were...let’s use the word displeased. “Oh, it’s a cop out! He doesn’t have that drive to win like Michael! He’d rather team up with the enemy instead of chart his own course! Boooo, whaaaaaaa!”
You get the idea. You could almost feel the tears of jealousy raining down like a summer thunderstorm.
Charles Barkley chimed in. Reggie Miller chimed in. Larry Bird chimed in. As you can imagine, none of their takes were particularly friendly. For example, Reggie’s article was titled “Kevin Durant Traded a Sacred Legacy for Cheap Jewelry,” which... yikes. That is a pretty fiery take there Reggie.
I understand that I’m naturally biased as a Warriors fan, but seriously. Those takes are a little much. Even if I hadn’t grown up rooting for the Dubs, as a basketball fan, I am genuinely flabbergasted that we’ll be able to witness Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green share a basketball court for an entire season (barring injury). I mean, who wouldn’t want to see that? I honestly don’t give a damn about competitive balance. The goal of being a human being is to be the best possible version of yourself. If that means joining up with other insanely talented individuals who share a similar work ethic, moral ethos, and god-given talent as you, why would you ever pass up that opportunity?
I know this whole argument has been literally worked into the ground via repetition. You no doubt have your own opinion, and nothing I say will sway that. Much like politics, people’s opinions and fandom are rarely governed by reason.
But beyond all that, I’m just downright stoked to watch those dudes ball out together next year.
Okay, moving on.
Kevin Durant, in Vegas for Team USA practices in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, finally sat down with members of the media and addressed the maelstrom that had surrounded his initial July 4th announcement.
Speaking about Barkley and Miller’s thunderously hot takes, Durant said:
“Those are two guys, you know? They've got a voice in our game, and a lot of people probably felt the same way but they don't have a voice so obviously what they say is translated through a megaphone so it feels like everybody else (thinks that). If Charles Barkley said it, it must be true. If Reggie Miller says it, it must be true.
“It just feels like it's bigger than what it is. But for the most part, I got the support around me. I've got the family that supports me no matter what, that love me no matter what I do. I could be playing tennis right now, and I could retire from the game of basketball and they're still going to love me. If I think about that, I'll be fine.”
That importance of family in Durant’s life was one of the driving forces in his decision to come to Golden State. You look at Steph, and see his family right beside him at all times. He wraps himself inside of faith and family more so than perhaps any other professional athlete other than Durant.
Asked about his relationship with Russell Westbrook, and if his reported dinner with the OKC all star guard had any impact on his eventual decision, Durant said:
“[...] I just made a decision based on where I wanted to go, man. It was as simple as that. We can think about all the reasons and the factors and what factored in, but it was simple. That's where I wanted to play basketball.”
One of the bravest things in the world is making a decision that is right for you and you alone, knowing that you’ll be lambasted by your community, by your peers, and by your fans. People are sitting on their couches, looking at Durant’s decision, calling him a coward. But, really, that decision took a lot of cajones. The easy, safe way out was remaining with OKC. The scary, unknown, higher-ceiling-but-greater-risk decision was to come west.
In regards to the broken hearts he left behind in Oklahoma City, Durant said:
“Of course they're going to say what they have to say because everybody is emotional, and I understand that ... I can't really say anything to make them feel any different, but just still go out there and be who I am as a basketball player and as a person, and like I said, life moves on.”
Life moves on. And even though sports grudges can—at times—be the most vicious and long lasting of unnecessary grudges, eventually people forgive and forget. The world will keep turning, no matter what career move Kevin Durant made in 2016.
Lastly, as he was getting up to leave the media scrum, Kevin said something that really drove the whole point home.
“Who's going to give a (expletive) when I'm 49 years old?”
That expletive sounds like “duck” and starts with the same first letter as the word “fuzzy,” “furry” and “ferocious.”
Side note: I’m so stoked for Durant’s post game pressers throughout the year. His newfound freedom of language is entertaining as all heck.
Because, really, c’mon y’all. Don’t hate the player, hate the...game? I guess that’s applicable here. If the owners hadn’t signed off on a series of financial, cap-related moves, and if the salary cap hadn’t inflated so quickly, the Warriors never would have been able to construct this team. Already, there are hints of an impending lockout due in no small part to other owners’ frustrations about and fears of this Warriors team, which could potentially be the greatest team ever constructed on paper.
You can’t possibly hold this against Durant, or against Curry or Draymond (who were so instrumental in wooing him). And you can’t hold it against modern basketball. I mean, I guess you could. But if you’re planning on checking out and not watching any ball next season, well... You’re gonna miss one hell of a show.
Anyways, go read Sam’s entire article. It has a whole bunch more content and quotes and is well worth your time.