It's the saddest day that I've ever experienced in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant, the cities' longest lasting and most revered sports hero, has abandoned his adopted home. Lured by the temptations of Golden State, Durant has decided to abandon the Thunder's quest for their first crown.
Via the Player's Tribune:
"The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors."
Process w/ Durant and Golden State players has been ongoing for months. They sold him on winning multiple titles together, easing Curry load— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
Kevin Durant called Thunder GM Sam Presti and told him directly of his decision to join the Warriors, league sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
There's been tremendous pressure within Durant's inner-circle to make dramatic move, to ride endorsement wave of change. Well, he did it.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
Draymond's been relentless recruiting Durant this season. Made him feel needed. After 3-1 comeback vs OKC, Green went right back at him.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
In meeting, Bob Myers told Durant: Without you, we can another title or two. Without us, you might win too. Together? We'll win a bunch.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
OKC brought Presti, Billy Donovan, Clay Bennett and support staff to Sunday meeting in Hamptons. They waited there until Durant decision.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
For Nike, this is a coup: It wanted to slow UnderArmour's momentum with Steph Curry and Warriors. Now, KD promises to impact Curry's star.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 4, 2016
Golden State is a world-class team with a rich owner and a great coach. KD's presence could bring the franchise to new heights. But we in Oklahoma City know that he's just riding Steph Curry's legacy.
Given what Durant has said about the city and team over the years, it's pretty baffling to me that he would decide to leave now. Especially given how consistently competitive the Thunder have been. Three Western Conference Finals appearances speak for themselves. And KD and Russ are effectively the oldest rotation players, giving OKC plenty of room to grow.
But this is effectively the first time Durant has had a choice with where to take his career since he was 18 years old, and deciding on a college. Since then, Durant has been binded by the NBA's CBA to stay with his current team. But now that Durant has a choice, he decided to strike out on his own.
In some ways, it's fitting. KD has always been a bit of a rebel. Durant's obsession with wearing backpacks at press conferences is one example. Or even KD's constant spats with this vague thing called "the media". I mean, there's not a huge precedent for superstars moving from team to team in the prime of their careers. The last former MVP to move teams before he was 30? Moses Malone, back in 1982. (Technically it's Derrick Rose, but with all due respect he's lost a big step in his game.)
So long KD, it was fun.
By the way, I will be jamming to this song all day.
Fans: Welcome to the Thunder's backcourt show of Oladipo and Russ. This team is going to be like an out-of-control 20 ton freight train.