This morning I went into a Holiday gas station to get a cookies and cream f’real milkshake because they’re delicious and I had been craving one for about three weeks.
As I was standing in line waiting to pay for my milkshake, a man nodded at me and said, “big basketball fan, huh?”
He was alluding to my Kobe Bryant brand t-shirt that I happened to be wearing. I kind of smirked and nodded to him in a way that signaled he was not only correct, but also sort of creepy.
The man looked at me and asked if I had heard the news yet. Assuming he was talking about Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors, I told him I had and was disappointed in the choice. The man nodded his head in agreement.
After paying for his coffee, the man turned to me and said, “you know — pointed at my shirt — Kobe never would have done something like this.”
This isn’t a petty excuse to bring up Kobe Bryant. I’m not one of those ridiculous Los Angeles fans that will find any excuse to talk about Kobe, nor am I a Kobe Bryant Stan. In fact, I’m probably the only Celtics fan in the world that has so much respect for Kobe Bryant that he’s one of my favorite players.
(Just can’t wear any Kobe clothing that is purple/yellow.)
What makes this relevant is that the man inside the Holiday gas station isn’t wrong. The great players simply wouldn’t have pulled this. Durant’s situation — in my opinion — is stating more than what we believe Kobe Bryant wouldn’t do. More than what Michael Jordan wouldn’t do. More than Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or even Tim Duncan wouldn’t do.
Hell, even LeBron’s decision was different than this. The year before LeBron decided to go to Miami, the Heat had a record of 47-35. They lost in 5 games to the Celtics in the first round! LeBron decided to take his talents to a team that happened to own the rights of a good friend in Dwyane Wade. If LeBron wasn’t born in Akron, and didn’t create the idiotic ensemble in which was “The Decision” than it wouldn’t be anything different than what we’re accustomed to seeing in free agency. Just another great player leaving to play for another team.
However, this, this is different. Kevin Durant (in his prime) is joining the core of a roster that turned in the all-time 73-9 record while going to back-to-back Finals. They’re established champions without Durant.
Durant and his Thunder were up 3 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals over the Golden State Warriors. They were up 10 points with three minutes left in Game Five. Durant literally couldn’t have come closer to beating a team, and yet, they lost. The writing of a possible move was on the wall.
For anybody with any sort of competitive gene in their body, how can you be anything except pissed off in that moment? How can it feel to watch each of the final 3 games slip out of YOUR hands? I can’t imagine the feeling in the locker room after getting there again, and again, and again only for the same result. A predominant letdown from the original light casted over this franchise in 2012. So young with so much talent. And now, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and even Kevin Durant are gone.
How can Durant join that team? Not just any team… that team.
I’m not upset that Durant left Oklahoma City. Actually, my team was (barely) in the Durant sweepstakes — the Boston Celtics — so in a way I was hoping he would depart. Obviously I would feel a lot different about this decision had his Player’s Tribune article stated his next chapter would be joining the Boston Celtics. I would have been ecstatic, clearly. But I even wrote during the playoffs that I’d understood why Durant would leave, regardless of where. Well, as long as it wasn’t there.
My honest reaction to this is that Durant just must not care all that much about being one of the greats. Sure, it was a power move as Dwyane Wade suggested on his Snapchat story, but a great doesn’t join an already all-time great situation if he wants to leave a legacy for the youngsters to follow. Clearly Durant just wants to be a part of a championship team, not be the reason for the championship team.
Literally any player in the NBA could join this current Warriors team and likely win a championship next season. So does it even count if Durant finally wins his ring there?Honestly, Michael Jordan could come out of retirement and pressure Steve Kerr into signing him to the roster so that he could add rings to his total if he wanted to.
I don’t understand why Durant would want to join this ridiculous super-villain team, rather than prove to the NBA that he can win a championship with who he was drafted by. He’s likely burning the bridges of many, including one of his best friends in Russell Westbrook. This decision alters the entire organization of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the rest of the National Basketball Association. Without Durant, they’re back to square one because Westbrook will likely leave after next season, or be traded at the deadline to a team stashed with assets.
If Durant wanted to leave, I don’t understand why he’d choose Golden State over Boston, or somewhere else. If he goes to Boston he gets to grow as a basketball player, is in a better position to win a championship, and is showered with more love than anywhere else in the NBA. There isn’t a way around it other than saying if he went to Boston he’d become a champion of the NBA and a champion of the people.
“Tradition. People here in NE aren’t transplants, they aren’t bandwagon folks. You are born, and raised here, and the Celtic, Sox, Bruins and Pats are not ‘your teams’ they are part of your life.” — Curt Schilling
What could possibly be better for Kevin Durant than entering the Hall of Fame as a Boston Celtic, raising banners 18, 19, and possibly 20 in the TD Garden, and becoming arguably the best players for that franchise?
If Tom Brady is treated like a God in a basketball town, than what the hell would Kevin Durant become? What else could he want?
I guess we’ll never find out.