Before the story even starts, Kevin Durant not only made the right move, he made the smart move. He did not allow his heart stings to be pulled by the love of the second NBA city that he has played in, because odds are that Russell Westbrook would have left him to run his own team next season. However Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors this summer should be looked at as a bigger bandwagon hop than LeBron James in 2010.
For one, Durant’s situation definitely comes of as an “if you can’t beat them, join them” game after a three game collapse against the Warriors left the Oklahoma City Thunder eternally one win away from the 2016 NBA Finals. James would have deservedly been criticized if he had joined the Boston Celtics team that bounced him, but he did not. Instead he was killed for migrating to a team who was not even on a championship level before he signed. In fact, the Miami Heat franchise was just finishing up back-to-back first round playoff departures. Golden State, on the other hand, is adding a top five player after the organization’s back-to-back trips to the Finals.
Clearly two different situations as one player was coming in to make a team something and the other simply being a piece to the puzzle. Yet, James was ridiculed for having to team up with his friends (Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade) after tossing around the idea of playing together during the Olympics — all because he could not win the big one alone.
Now why is it different for Durant? ESPN’s Chris Broussard is praising the fact that he created a bond with Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala at the World Games. And his one championship series run came up short with James Harden and Russell Westbrook by his side. In a year where every pundit talking was ready to tell you that he was on James’ heels for best player in the league status.
Nine years, no titles and a career of never really getting called out for anything that he does. Not even playing considerably worse than Westbrook in the Western Conference Finals. Why, because he is so likeable — especially after his “you’re the real MVP” speech to his mother. Add to that the fact that the Warriors are loveable and anger will never really come from the fans. Those same fans who hated the Heat.
They were fun, yet obnoxious, just like the Warriors. They overly celebrated when they won and pouted to no end when they loss. But they also had Pat Riley and the most polarizing guy in the sport. Golden State has Curry, Klay Thompson and a group of jovial men and their children. The only things that get an adverse reaction about them is a missed three, Draymond Green kick or wife proclaiming that the league is rigged. And that even wears off.
Which is why other teams have seemed very envious of them all season. Also why more players are calling out the move than onlookers. The same way Durant did in 2010 when he tweeted “Now everybody wanna play for the Heat and the Lakers? Let’s go back to being competitive and going at these people!”
Obviously disdain for the super teams that caused the lockout of 2011, is only there if it does not have to do with your winning. We all saw that when Dan Gilbert shattered the luxury tax to build around James and get the Cleveland Cavaliers a title. All of his complaints went away. So will Durant’s.
In the end they were both smart moves that everyone can agree on, unless it happens on South Beach.