Kevin Durant on the 2015-16 Warriors: 'I guess you could say I'm glad that they lost'
Like a lot of people – Ohioans, certain shoe company executives, major party donors, children of all ages – Kevin Durant appeared to be rooting for a Cleveland Cavaliers conquest in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA championship. With the Golden State Warriors well on their way toward giving up a 3-1 lead in the Finals, free agent to-be Durant had a vested interest in not looking too much like the championship-chasin’ carpetbagger he knew far too many talking heads would peg him as, should he choose to move in with the Warriors a few weeks later.
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Those Warriors, famously, did end up losing that Game 7 just two weeks before the 2014 NBA MVP made his decision official. Durant, in a Warriors-wide meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce on Monday, discussed that fateful Sunday:
Interesting quote from Kevin Durant on watching the Warriors in Game 7 of the Finals and whether he would've come if they won pic.twitter.com/3LiOEnaLCC
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 11, 2016
So, from here, the easy take is that Kevin Durant had already made up his mind.
That he wanted nothing to do with that simplistic Oklahoma City offense, still stagnant even after the release of coach Scott Brooks the year before and the return to full health for both Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, while pining to glom onto the 73-win sybaritic exercise that is the Golden State Warriors Experience.
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Somehow, states away from the Bay Area, Kevin Durant’s nasty mojo helped dip Kyrie Irving’s long jumper through the net prior to shuffling Kevin Love’s feet into the exact right place to deflect the defending champs’ last attempt at a back-to-back title. That damnedable scoundrel, pushing Cleveland into a title and Golden State away from glory just so that he could dictate his own media narrative.
Think of the push/pull that Kevin Durant was working through here. Nobody is asking you to feel sorry for the millionaire with the feathery touch, but this is a guy who had to lean toward the faraway destruction of his future teammates in order to make his anticipated jump to a working environment he enjoyed all the more palatable for those who somehow have yet to develop the brain mush needed to stop themselves from sitting around to listen to people talk about sports on TV or radio for hours on end.
For those that can tolerate that sort of daily, insipid bleating, Durant is a case study no matter his intentions, no matter his hopes and dreams, whatever direction he takes and whatever the hell a basketball team does in Game 7 of an NBA Finals (prior to blowing a 3-1 lead in those same NBA Finals). Kevin Durant may very well win his first NBA title this June, but he and everyone around him knew that the prelude to that championship would be met with fits and burps from daytime cable TV’s most sniffly and superior.
Stay in Oklahoma City, join a champion in Golden State, or split the difference and join a Game 7 loser in Golden State: Kevin Durant wouldn’t win with any decision. Even if he keeps those tattoos under wraps, or passes on involving Jim Gray. Don’t cry for the Famous Guy, again, but never make an attempt to understand where he’s coming from on a human level, either.
This is sort of where we’re at, now. Famous Gal gets robbed at gunpoint at a posh Parisian hotel? Well, she shouldn’t have been famous to begin with.
Kevin Durant wasn’t fully happy with his work setting, and he wanted a new gig. Because of the confluence of talent and the free market feint (stuck within a private league) that takes place in most pro sports’ offseason, he was allowed to shop his wares. Due to careful planning, sound infrastructure, good timing and a bit of luck, the record-setting Golden State Warriors just happened to be in a position to create enough wiggle room to approximate the sort of salary that Kevin Durant could have gotten from Oklahoma City, had he stayed with a team that at times clearly frustrated him.
(A frustration that, for years, acted as daily fodder for the same sort of pillocks that make their hay on cable TV, pandering to day drunks and those who watch TV on workdays; the same exact creatures who now spend their mornings and afternoons bleating about how Kevin Durant took the easy way out of what was clearly an ineffably pristine setting within the Oklahoma City Thunder offense.)
Now that the shakes have worn off, here’s a quip from the same Chamber of Commerce presentation, from Warriors owner Joe Lacob:
“[Kevin Durant is] a phenomenal talent, and I know there’s a lot of other owners that are mad at us, and at me. I felt that when I was in Las Vegas this summer [for the NBA’s annual league meetings], but sorry. We got him.”
Yes, we’ll probably be denied the Western Conference Final Rematch For the Ages that we’d hoped for in 2017 with Durant in Golden State (though recent attempts at securing those rematches for returning squads in 2001, 2003 2007 and 2013 all failed) and with the Thunder now forced into acting as a Russell Westbrook-led upstart. For that, and many other things, you can carp.
What you can’t do is annoyingly rail on about a man who decided to accept an employment offer that he preferred. Lest you’ve never, in your employable days, considered a move along those same lines.
For you, this is a sport. For Kevin Durant, this is his job.
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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!