Nets star Kevin Durant responds to criticism he received after signing with Golden State in the summer of 2016.
It wasn’t long ago that Kevin Durant was universally recognized as the pound-for-pound villain of basketball. That designation was wholly understandable as he spurned Oklahoma City as a free agent in favor of Golden State back in 2016 after the Thunder blew a 3-1 lead against the Warriors with a ticket to the NBA Finals on the line.
As we all know, not re-signing with the Thunder wasn’t the problem. What enraged so many fans and pundits was that Durant “sold out” by choosing to sign with a team that not only beat his, but was also already the consensus championship favorite coming off a 73-9 record-setting season.
Fortunately for Durant, the criticism stemming from his now-infamous decision has simmered in recent years, especially after he played through injury during the 2019 playoffs. The 31-year-old superstar has since signed with the Brooklyn Nets, with whom he could permanently silence his critics if he wins a title.
As always, however, there are a few grudge-holding fans who still don’t forgive Durant for ruining what was left of the league’s parody. In a recent appearance on JJ Reddick’s podcast, the four-time scoring champ provided a ruthless response for those who claim he “took the easy way out” by signing with the Warriors.
As hypocritical as Durant comes off here, it’s really hard to disagree with his explanation as his move to the Bay Area ended up paying huge dividends in terms of his legacy. After going the first nine years of his career without a championship, the former No. 2 overall pick won two consecutive with Golden State.
Durant was rightfully named Finals MVP both times as he averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 assists and 5.4 assists per game on 55.5% shooting, including 47.3% on threes in the 2017 edition. A year later, he posted 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists with .526/.409/.962 shooting splits.
Is it possible that KD would be viewed in a higher regard among basketball fans had he championed loyalty (like some stars) and re-signed with OKC? Absolutely, but it’s also extremely likely that he’d still be searching for a title, which defines legacies. Now, he has two rings and two all-important Finals MVPs to boot.
All told, it’s really encouraging to know that Durant views his decision to sign with Golden State as a career-defining moment. Because of it, his name is now mentioned alongside some of the greatest players to ever grace the NBA. Before, he was just regarded as an all-time offensive weapon who may one day take the “best player in the league” mantle from LeBron James.