Brooklyn Nets: NBA Finals matchup bad for Brooklyn’s superteam dream

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Scenario 1: Golden State wins the NBA championship

This scenario is two-fold because it depends on Durant’s contributions to Golden State winning the title.

Scenario 1A: Durant returns early and plays like a Finals MVP

If this scenario plays out, I find it hard to believe that he would not re-sign with the Warriors.

By re-signing with Golden State, Durant would remain on the best team in the NBA for the next four to five seasons if he shoots for a max deal. This would afford him load management where his minutes would be monitored to keep him healthy for the next four or five years.

Additionally, being with Golden State is a relatively easy ticket back to the NBA Finals where he would have the opportunity to win his fourth straight NBA championship next year.

The only team to win four straight NBA championships was the Boston Celtics who won eight in a row from 1959-66.

To put that in perspective, no NBA team has won four straight NBA titles in 53 years. That’s over half a century ago.

The last notable star players to do it were Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and John Havlicek (who passed away earlier this year). They are all NBA legends.

The last team in the modern era that had a chance to win four NBA titles in a row was the early 21st century Los Angeles Lakers in 2002-03, but nagging injuries to Shaquille O’Neal limited the Lakers to 50 regular-season wins and a No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

That group fell to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

Before that were the early 1990s Chicago Bulls. They attempted the feat in 1994, but they were without Michael Jordan, who retired for the first time before that season began.

The second Bulls dynasty never had a chance to attempt a fourth straight title win in 1999. Jordan retired again, coach Phil Jackson left and the team was dismantled.

When comparing all-time greats and legends, much of the focus is on their accumulation of NBA championship rings, a.k.a. hardware. Russell has 11 NBA titles to his name. He can wear one ring on his toe.

Jordan has six to his name and probably would have more if he didn’t retire in 1994. Kobe Bryant has five rings.

Jordan will always be considered greater than Kobe because of that one-ring differential (among other things). However, that one-ring differential takes Bryant out of the greatest player of all-time argument.

That is how powerful the hardware is when it comes to ranking the greatest players of all time.

LeBron James has three rings, but he’s never won three in a row. Losing six times in the NBA finals is a bit of a blemish on his legacy as well.

Right now Durant is going for his third straight NBA title. If he gets it, I can’t imagine a scenario where he passes up the opportunity to win four straight titles and perhaps more, as winning four in a row is unheard of in the modern NBA.

Hardware seems to be the only stat that counts in the exclusive club of true greats and league of NBA legends. Durant is aware of this.

To do something that hasn’t been accomplished in more than 50 years — and only once before in league history — would be a monumental milestone for his career.

If the Warriors win this year, Durant would need three more titles to surpass Bryant, one more to surpass LeBron and four  more to surpass Jordan in the modern era. He is turning 31 in September. This is still a reality for him. A reality that is extremely rare.

That is some strong incentive to stay in Golden State.

So which is the bigger motivating factor for Durant? Cementing his legacy at the height of NBA’s Mount Rushmore and re-sign with Golden State?

Or does he buy into the notion that his path to the height of NBA’s Mount Rushmore is to leave a dynastic team to try and win one or maybe two more championships as the focal point of another team?

Does he think he needs to leave the Warriors and then beat the Warriors to be considered the greatest of all time? I would personally love to see that happen, but KD has a history of making things easier for himself rather than harder.

I don’t expect that trend to change. Nor do I hold it against him.

It’s a mentality most of the league already has. It’s hard to blame them when they are held to the hardware standard in terms of greatness. It’s not a bad standard but it does set a precedence of players perpetually playing the lord of the rings game.

The bar is set so high it would be impossible to achieve if a player always made things harder for themselves.

They all see NBA greats like Charles Barkley get ridiculed because he never got a ring. They don’t want to be that person who never got a ring. Then once they get the ring, the hunger for more is insatiable. The more they get, the greater they are. That’s just how it is.

In 20 years will NBA fans simply count Durant’s rings and judge his legacy solely on that, or will they still remember that he got those rings by piggy-backing onto a 73-win NBA Finals-losing Warriors team?

Which road should Durant take?

Durant is probably contemplating this question as he is recovering from a grade 2 right calf strain. As of right now, he has been ruled out for Game 1 of the Finals, according to Yahoo Sports.