Kevin Durant did the right thing. Had he stayed, a number of things would’ve happened, including: Oklahoma City renamed as “Durant-Burg”, several professional and amateur sculptures, and a music crossover with 80’s icons Duran Duran. I still hope that last one happens. Reality tells us that almost overnight, Kevin Durant is one of the most reviled villains in the NBA. I’m here to say, it doesn’t work like that.
First, let’s take a look at not just the recent history of the league, say the last 8 years or so, but its history in sum total. In that time span, there have been more super teams than could fit into a Marvel Avenger’s film. From Paul Pierce and the “Boston Three Party”, to what I’m calling “The Gold Standard” in Oakland. Joining forces is the easiest and most sensible way to win multiple championships. I say multiple because these days it takes an insurance ring to validate any player’s legacy.
Chemistry and cohesion is more paramount in the NBA than it is for Walter White. You can possess all the talent in the world and crumble like gravel at a construction site without drive and focus. Despite Draymond Green’s most recent transgressions, which as a Michigan State fan make me nauseous, Durant and his 28 points per game, joins a team with a hyper-adaptable head coach in Steve Kerr, Sixth Man extraordinaire Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson, the heartbeat of the Warriors. If it works, it will work really, really well.
No one comes to the NBA with the goal of not winning a championship, but not that many teams get to check that box because the power in the league is very compartmentalized. If you’re not the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, or even the Warriors, you’re an interloper.
It brings me no great joy to make that statement as my Detroit Pistons are relegated to building teams composed exclusively of role players. It took nearly a decade for relevant basketball to return to the Motor City after Chauncey Billups and the Bad Boys 2.0 ousted the heavily-favored Lakers in five games. Andre Drummond’s pathetic free throw shooting notwithstanding, the Pistons are still looking for the last puzzle piece to become a serious contender again.
You can draw some parallels here in Boston, young team anchored by newly-minted superstar Isaiah Thomas, and about 600,000 wait and see draft picks accrued by Danny Ange. Jae Crowder is a nice piece, so is Marcus Smart, but with all their youth, the Celtics are still a dark horse for hanging their 18th NBA championship banner.
Back to Durant. I have a problem with people throwing around the term “Evil Empire” when referring to the current rendition of the Golden State Warriors. That moniker is only earned after decades of reprehensible winning streaks, and a history of divisive figures. That title is reserved for teams like the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, and Duke Blue Devils. Sure, you can hate a team, but there is a distinction between “most-hated” and “Evil Empire”.
Durant is a good dude, he uses his immense public profile to do NBA Cares projects, he became a legend at the University of Texas, and he’s more understated than you think. He wants to win a title while he’s still very much in his prime, and he took the opportunity. He didn’t do it while beating his chest, nor did he make the world suffer through an ego stroking special on ESPN.
So that’s that. The Durantula is near the top of the food chain in the animal kingdom, and quite frankly, no one made history in this signing. The NBA has and always will be a league of haves and have-nots, but the truth is, before this free agency deal and setting the regular season win mark, the Warriors were sort of a well-liked team. Maybe it’s time to back ease up on KD. The time to earn it starts in a few short months.