Say what you want about Kevin Durant. You can say that he bailed on Oklahoma City, a city and team Durant essentially built with his bare hands.
You can say that Durant has chosen to take the easy route to a championship by joining a Warriors team coming off a season in which they won a record 73 regular season games and had not one, not two, but three chances to close out the Cavaliers to win a second consecutive NBA championship.
Not to mention the fact that Durant has now jumped ship to the team that he had a 3-1 series lead against in the Western Conference finals and couldn’t shut the door. You wouldn’t be wrong if you said that was a weak move, especially when you consider the fact that Michael Jordan, once upon a time in a similar situation as Durant losing to the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons in three straight postseasons, never bailed on his city and ended up breaking through to win six championships (which rightly or wrongly so has become the unofficial benchmark to which all great players are held to.)
Just imagine for a second if Jordan left the Bulls to join the Pistons after the 1990 NBA playoffs and the ramifications that would have had…
All of these would be extremely fair and valid points. But now that Durant has chosen to take his talents to Golden State, he’s put himself in a precarious position where he will likely be the most criticized and ridiculed player in the NBA now that LeBron finally accomplished the one thing the NBA gods wished of him, to lead Cleveland to its first professional championship since 1964. LeBron is now impregnable.
The only way Durant’s decision could have possibly looked worse was if the Warriors managed to close out the Cavs, and Durant would have left to join a team that was coming off back-to-back titles and beat the world’s best player two years in a row. Thankfully, for Durant’s sake, Golden State fell.
Examining everything, here’s Durant’s situation right now. Fail to win a championship with this team and the amount of backlash he will receive may be unprecedented in the history of sports. Succeed in winning a championship, and most people will not give him credit because he joined one of the most stacked teams in recent NBA history. That’s just a fact.
But one thing that can’t be argued is if Durant does capture that elusive first career title with the Warriors, his situation will be exponentially better than if he were to come up short, which is exactly why he better succeed in Golden State… or else.