Kevin Durant's decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in the summer of 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors turned him from being one of the most beloved players in the NBA to the biggest villain of the league. The skinny and friendly kid that was tearing it up in OKC overnight became one of the most hostile personalities in the league, often clashing with fans and media. In a certain way, it was a defensive mechanism to all the criticism he was receiving, but KD showed he changed drastically after that decision.
Playing for nine years in OKC, achieving numerous personal accolades, and going into deep playoff runs helped KD establish himself as one of the best scorers and players in the Association. But what was missing from his resume was a championship. So after having a couple of close runs, concluding with OKC’s best shot in the 2016 playoffs, in which they blew a 3-1 lead in WCF against the Warriors, Durant was done and looking for a way out.
Every single team wanted to get KD on the roster, and numerous suitors emerged. OKC had a chance at keeping him, but it was hard to see him staying loyal with teams like the Celtics, the Heat, the Spurs, the Clippers, and ultimately the Warriors making strong pitches. Durant shocked the world and decided to join the Golden State Warriors, a 73-9 team with three All-Stars on the roster. One of the biggest super-teams ever was created, as the Warriors, who were already dominating the NBA, got even stronger. The balance of the NBA shifted dramatically and became too one-sided, drawing criticism from a large number of NBA fans who didn't like the uncompetitiveness. The fault, of course, fell on KD's back.
Yesterday a great interview between two former teammates in Draymond Green and Kevin Durant came out, as a lot of inside stuff from Durant's career and particularly Warriors days came out. Draymond asked KD about his decision to leave OKC for GSW and what went into it, as Durant shared how he doesn't have any regrets:
"It was a basketball decision, but I knocked down the, like, 'not giving a f--k ladder' with that too. It kinda knocked down two birds with one stone with that. But it was mainly; I felt I was the absolute perfect fit with what you guys were doing on both ends of the ball. And I knew my game had reached a point where I needed to really see what that looked like. I thought that was just a no-brainer. I would do that s--t a million times. And, you know, again I wouldn't- I didn't second guess it at all...it went perfect."
Kevin Durant, "Chips"
Even though he received major backlash, resulting in a damaged reputation, Durant never looked back at his decision with regret or wishfulness he could get that back. Joining the Warriors a few months after a 3-1 meltdown to them took courage, as KD knew what kind of reactions his decision would create. But three Finals appearances and two rings later, Durant at least got his money's worth, achieving his ultimate goal despite all the hate he received. Maybe a good chunk of the NBA world will never acknowledge or respect KD's rings, but for him, it won't matter as joining the Warriors culture was the perfect fit in his eyes and the opportunity to become a champion.