Kevin Durant Leaves Oklahoma City for Golden State, Twitter Reacts Gloriously
Twitter never forgets.
Be mindful, people — if you tweet something, especially something judgmental, and years later you're guilty of behavior similar to that which you are judging, people will sift through your mountain of thoughts from the past several years and wave the old tweet in your face. Changing your mind, changing your world views over time, these things are not permitted in the social media realm.
Ask Kevin Durant, who moments after choosing to spurn the only franchise he's ever played for, the Oklahoma City Thunder (nee the Seattle Sonics), to join Steph Curry and the 73-win Golden State Warriors on a two-year, $54.3 million deal (with an opt-out after Year 1), was reminded that he was none too impressed with LeBron James's similar "Decision" back in 2010....
Now everybody wanna play for the heat and the Lakers? Let's go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 16, 2010
In a way, it'd be appropriate for Durant to send LeBron a thank-you note (or tweet) inasmuch as LeBron's made-for-TV "Decision" special six years ago, and his perceived stabbing in the back of Cleveland, set a standard for fan base vitriol induction that makes fan base reactions to star players leaving in free agency since then — whether Dwight Howard in 2013, LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015 or Durant yesterday — seem tame by comparison.
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The irony is this — if you compare the situations of LeBron in Cleveland in 2010 and Durant in Oklahoma City up until yesterday, James's departure was actually far more justifiable. James left a team behind in 2010 whose management could never put a quality team (or star teammate) around him. The team had the worst record in the NBA the season after LeBron left.
Conversely, Durant has played for a team with one of the best general managers in basketball over the past decade in Sam Presti. Aside from the ill-advised trade of James Harden, which was on ownership as much as the GM, Presti has drafted and roster-built very, very well. Durant leaves behind a team with a second All-NBA level player (Russell Westbrook) that will still probably win around 48-50 games next season.
On top of that, Durant joins a team that won 73 games last season and a title the season before, and came within a few bad possessions of a second title. He is clearly taking the easiest path possible to winning a championship, which will matter when it comes time to judge Durant alongside the all-time greats, a group with whom his skills put him in the discussion.
Durant's move made May and June of next year more interesting, but rendered the regular season a little less interesting, unless the Warriors plan to chase 74 wins this season. Functionally, though, Durant placed a glass ceiling on how far he can ascend up the aforementioned list of all-time greats. For better or worse, any titles Durant wins, when it comes to discussing where he stands among the all-time greats, will come with the caveat that he climbed aboard an already rumbling freight train of a team and rode along with them to a title (or titles) they were probably going to contend for, and maybe win, anyway.
I make that assessment as a statement of belief with no vitriol or anger, which is nothing like how I (and many others) felt when LeBron decided to playground-partner with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. Back then, I felt it was an affront to basketball and competition. Now, it's just something that I've accepted today's player is wired to do. No anger on my part, just a reminder of the reality that Durant did something yesterday that exposes him to be either impatient or a tad soft. Or both.
Some will raise the arguments about people along various lines of work who chose a more successful company, better working conditions or a combination of the two, and ask why we don't begrudge those folks the same way we do Durant. My answer to them is simple — none of those people are in a business where their legacy is measured in championships. It's apples and oranges. Durant has every right to move, the same way every one of us has a right to his or her own criteria for what constitutes true greatness.
For me, for Durant's individual greatness cachet, winning a title with Oklahoma City (or Boston or any team with fewer than three other All-Stars) counts more than winning one with a team that broke the regular season win record WITHOUT him last season.
Now, the Internet and Oklahoma City did not react in as balanced a fashion as I did to Durant's breaking news. Not even close.
As always, we had a few excellent WWE memes....
YOU CAN CALL THIS THE NEW WORLD ORDER OF BASKETBALL pic.twitter.com/Dz4s7U9FTi— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) July 4, 2016
Stephen A. Smith was considerably more angry than a lot of us, and Chris Broussard was almost swallowed up in the tsunami of Smith bitterness...
Oklahoma City fans did not have a good day. First, there was this kid, who has a future as a WWE manager...
...and then this loser who put a "FOR SALE BY COWARD" sign in Durant's front yard. Seems like a real gem, this guy. To be fair, he is reportedly the owner of a bar in Oklahoma City, and once Russell Westbrook leaves next year, he's probably on the cusp of a 70 percent downturn in business.
People in OKC are NOT happy with KD. Here's Big Rich, who runs the Pink Parrot, one of the best bars out there. pic.twitter.com/62xIVxmf99— Landry Locker (@LandryLocker) July 4, 2016
What's the overall effect of the Durant signing? Well, you get better payout on the field to win the NBA title than you do the Warriors...
NBA Champ updated— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) July 4, 2016
In the second week of August, the NBA will release next year's schedule. If the Warriors aren't in Oklahoma City for Christmas, something is wrong.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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