July 4th, 2016. That’s when Kevin Durant announced his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors. His decision to do so shocked the NBA world, and changed the modern day NBA as we know it. He had just blown a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to that very same Warriors team, and now was joining them. A team that had just broken the NBA wins record with a 73-9 record.
When Durant made this decision, he said it was the right decision for him to make. He said that it would put him in the best possible position to succeed. He was not wrong about that. Since joining the Warriors, Durant has been a two time NBA champion and won two Finals MVPs in the process, solidifying himself as one of the greatest players of the 21st century. On the surface, Durant’s decision has enabled himself to experience success few other players have ever had. But, his time with Golden State has been and will always be marked with an asterisk, and has not had the desired effect on his legacy he was hoping for.
Durant has long been the number two guy. He’s talked about it. It’s followed him his whole career. He was the number two high school prospect in his class behind Greg Oden. He was drafted second behind Oden. And, after his first few years in the league, he had been labeled the second best player in the world, behind LeBron James.
In his move to Golden State, he clearly sought to ascend to the number one guy–to be recognized as the most talented and best basketball player in the world. He didn’t see the backlash coming after taking down James in back-to-back Finals. Instead of being praised and adored he has been labeled a front-runner and a luxury to the Warriors instead of a necessity.
The Warriors had already become one of the best teams in NBA history before adding him. And now, after going down with an injury in the midst of one of the best singular postseason runs by any player, it is more clear than ever that Kevin Durant must leave in free agency.
The Warriors are now an astounding 30-1 without Kevin Durant, and with Steph Curry playing. Their offense moves the ball so well, and Curry and Draymond Green are so clearly more comfortable with him off the court. Durant is a luxury. He is the safety button for this team. When Curry and Thompson are off, he’s there to rescue them. Durant will be so much more respected in a lead role with another team.
He’s gotten rings and Finals MVPs with this incredible team. It’s now time for him to silence the rest of his doubters, and win a ring elsewhere.