Before I delve into why Kevin Durant riding the coattails of others on his way to a probable ring is a shameful act, let me begin by expressing how I fully understand that ring chasing has been around since the beginning of NBA basketball. From Wilt Chamberlain, to Karl Malone, to lesser players like David West, down to role players such as Mike Miller. Sacrificing money, relationships, and even integrity for a chance at a title is not a new phenomenon.
That said, we have NEVER seen it done in this capacity and God willing, we will never have to see it again.
But if other players have done it throughout history, then why is this case so different? First of all, it generally has not been known as something a player is willing to do in the midst of his prime. Ring chasing has notoriously been synonymous with aging players who are giving it one last go. Not until LeBron James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami did a prime player chasing rings become a normality.
And while LeBron is responsible for this trend, believe it or not, he is not the worst case of it. Yes, I said it. As damaging as what LeBron did turned out to be, what Durant did by joining the Golden State Warriors was even sadder. On the surface, it may seem like the same thing, but the differences are simple:
Durant joined the team that had just eliminated him from the playoffs, despite the fact that he had a 3-1 series lead against them. He was one strong individual performance away from taking Golden State out.
Durant joined a team that was favored to win it all before he even got in the mix. Not just were the Warriors favored, but they already won a championship in 2015, and would have won another in 2016 sans a Draymond Greens suspension.
Durant joined a team that already featured the first ever unanimous MVP, Stephen Curry, as their face.
Straight up, Durant joined a team that flat out does not need him!
On the contrary, at least Miami NEEDED LeBron, where as these Warriors are the best team in the league WITHOUT Durant! We are officially in unprecedented territory.
I may be wrong, but I believe there has never been two MVP players playing on the same team during their prime years. Golden State might be the greatest assembled offense in NBA history. Not to mention, their defense is not too shabby either. In fact, the Warriors might have the probable Defensive Player of the Year on their squad in Draymond Green. We’re talking about a group that can realistically blow out an all-star team here.
While the Portland Trailblazers are not contenders to win the title, they are still a solid playoff team, yet the Golden State Warriors curb-stomped them in a Game 2 110-81 victory. And where was Durant? Sitting out with what the Warriors called a “sore calf”. As expected, Durant sat again for Game 3, which equaled another victory for Golden State without their best player. Durant finally came back for Game 4 to “help” sweep the Blazers in a 28 point victory.
There is absolutely no dependance on Durant. He is, simply put, a luxury to have. Has there ever been an all-time great player who won a title as a luxury? If there was, I can not recall.
Meanwhile, the Thunder team he left in Oklahoma City competed without him in a hard fought series against the Houston Rockets. The Thunder would eventually lose 4-1, but almost every game went down to the wire. Had some bounces went their way, OKC could just as easily have won 4-1. The Rockets are no joke, and quite possibly the biggest threat to take out the Warriors (not that it’s an actual threat, but you get the drift).
Russell Westbrook needs Durant, that much is obvious. In fact, it would not surprise me if Golden State’s acquisition of Durant was a chess move to eliminate their biggest threat in the Thunder. If Durant stayed in OKC, I have no doubt that they would be the favorites to win it all this year.. But with class and integrity, as opposed to cowardice and desperation.
Don’t get me wrong, Durant is a future hall of famer, and clearly one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game. He always came off as a humble figure with a quiet personality, as well as the utmost respect. But perhaps his beta demeanor is a contributing factor to the drive behind this entire ordeal.
It begs the question, where has competition gone? LeBron’s NBA needs a shake up…FAST. Can you imagine Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 after losing the title game to them? That is the exact situation we are staring at with Kevin Durant. It’s deplorable, yet this is the direction we are heading towards, folks. Competitive nature has gone out the window. Top tier players are taking banana boat trips to form All-NBA teams. Hall of famers are teaming up with their competition, and it is not fun to watch. In todays league, those who can not beat ’em have officially been given a pass to join ’em.
They are too good. They do not need you.
Hell, they might not even need their coach!…… but thats a different story.