In a scene that was way too familiar for Portland Trail Blazers & Cleveland Cavaliers fans recently, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s biggest superstar (and one of the NBA’s best players) Kevin Durant announced today that he would be leaving the Thunder (a team that he played nine seasons for) and joining the Golden State Warriors.
You know who the Warriors are, right? Yes. Those Golden State Warriors who won an NBA title during the 2014-15 NBA season for the first time in over 40 years. Yes. Those Golden State Warriors who just set the NBA record with the most wins in a season when they finished with a 73-9 record. Those guys are adding Kevin Durant. One of the best players in the NBA.
No, unfortunately we aren’t kidding you. Mr. Durant is taking his tail, tucking it between his legs and heading off to Golden State so he can win some titles so he doesn’t get labeled as the guy who got close but never was able to get it done. That’s a brutal label. Guys like Dan Marino, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Tony Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, & Ken Griffey Jr. are perfect examples of guys who were tremendous athletes in their respective sports, but never won a title. And in the NBA, it’s even worse because it’s more of an individual sport built on superstars. Outside of Dan Marino, when you talk about guys who never won titles….you usually go straight to the NBA names. It’s just the honest truth and something tells me Durant didn’t want to end his career mentioned in the same category as those guys.
The problem is, Durant was close to winning a championship with his current team. In the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder got a 3-1 lead on the Golden State Warriors, before the Warriors fought back and did what champions do, and that’s fight when your backs are against the wall. One thing that series proved was how close in talent the Thunder were to “the greatest team in NBA history”. Even though Oklahoma City came up short, you had to give them credit for what they did. They took Golden State to the limit and almost sent them home. It really felt like the Thunder were only a couple of pieces away from perhaps overtaking the Warriors as the kings of the Western Conference and maybe those pieces would be added this off-season?
When the Thunder traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic and received Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova, and Domantas Sabonis in return…I was thinking “Wow, that’s step one”. Now who else can they add? The only thing was, none of that mattered. Why? Because Kevin Durant himself had still failed to fully commit to the Thunder. If Durant wasn’t on board, it didn’t matter who Oklahoma City ended up getting because if he left, the balance of power just shifted in the West again.
It was all good though. Just like LaMarcus Aldridge did with the Portland Trail Blazers and their fans, Durant and his people constantly re-assured the Thunder that there was a “90% chance” that Durant would be returning to Oklahoma City. You think we would have learned a lesson though. After, Aldridge went on record and said that he wanted to retire as the “best Trail Blazer of all-time”, it should have been an immediate red flag the moment the reports came out that Durant’s people said there was a 90% chance that he would return to the Thunder. Stupid us.
Durant announced today that he was gone. Adios. Leaving town. Heading to the team that he almost beat in the Western Conference Finals. The old adage definitely comes into play here:
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”
Today was a brutal day for NBA fans. It was a really rough day for fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder like THE Ultimate Sports Blog’s very own Jeremy Lambert. It was a craptastic day for NBA small market teams everywhere. Once again, we are reminded that location definitely comes into play when free agents are making their decision (Durant would have found it harder to leave OKC if they had more beaches and less cows).
And unfortunately it’s really shitty for next year’s NBA season because there’s no way in hell anyone stands a chance of beating the Golden State Warriors. Might as well crown their asses now. Unless LeBron James decides to pull a last-minute swerve and brings Dwyane Wade with him to Oklahoma City…I’m going to pass on next season and you should to.