Despite being bashed by his hometown paper and a headline that heinously labeled the Oklahoma City Thunder forward as “Mr. Unreliable,” Kevin Durant is certain to remain a member of ball club from OKC for his entire career. This guy is one of the two best players on the planet at this current juncture in his illustrious career and only showed signs of improving during his 2013-14 MVP campaign
Durant is one of the two remaining players in the organization that once donned a Seattle Supersonics uniform, along with Nick Collison. While he was most likely thrilled to shed the hideous green and yellow uni, he embraced the blue and orange digs along with his new city wholeheartedly. Durant has been made an incredible impact off the court as well, actively participating in NBA Cares programs as well as launching his own charity, the Kevin Durant Family Foundation. He’s not only already a Hall of Fame basketball player, he’s a Hall of Fame man.
What does any of this have to do with staying in Oklahoma City, you ask? The answer is simple: Kevin has principles. After inking a five-year deal that began in the 2011-12 season, Durant is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016. The impending end of his current contract has allowed speculation regarding his future plans to run loose causing analysts to make predictions nearly two years before the event actually occurs. Sprinkled in with the frenzy that has been this year’s free-agency period has been whispering mumbles of “Durant to the Washington Wizards in 2016.” First of all, everyone needs to relax. Though Durant’s family and roots lie in D.C., don’t expect him to follow his heart back home similar to the that of one LeBron James. These two circumstances are significantly different for the two biggest stars in the NBA.
An argument — an easy one, at that — could be made that Durant should have at least one, if not two championship rings through this point, his seventh season in the league. In 2012, his Thunder dropped four-straight games after a home opener statement win against the Miami Heat. They were one foul on James away from heading to Miami up 2-0, but a Danny Crawford no-call tied the series at 1-1. We know what happened after that in South Beach. In 2014, had Serge Ibaka not been injured, we may have been talking about Durant and company hoisting the trophy. I truly believe that armed with a healthy Ibaka for every game of the Conference Finals, the Thunder would have toppled the San Antonio Spurs in six games. Woe was me, Ibaka was hurt and San Antonio won the series in six.
Any conscious NBA fan with a pulse knows the Thunder are on the brink of a championship, only needing fine tuning rather than an engine rebuild. This is why Durant is not going to leave. He began his career with the Thunder and unlike James, has the help on his current roster to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy high in the air. Durant is loyal. LeBron is also very loyal, but in a very different way. It took four years and some growing up — and becoming an exponentially better player — to realize Cleveland is and always will be the place he hangs his hat.
Durant’s loyalty cannot be measured, but can surely be recognized. Though his first few years were a bit of a struggle, the emergence of Russell Westbrook facilitated the team to blossom into an upper-echelon group. Durant, despite constant criticism, embraces the talent and head case that is Westbrook with open arms. They are brothers in battle, a battle they are mere inches away from conquering. Durant wants to conquer this challenge with his brother on the court and create a dynasty. He is embraced by all Oklahomans as their savior. Durant is worshiped in OKC, though, he doesn’t need — or perhaps want — to be. He is a normal guy who has found a place he can call his own. He is humble. He is the rolling plains of Oklahoma. He has found the place with an infinite amount of potential that he can stamp as his own.
Washington, D.C. may be the city where he grew up, but Oklahoma City is now, and will forever be, his home.