A year ago, Kevin Durant made one of the most surprising decisions in NBA history.
May 30, 2016. The stage was set for the Oklahoma City Thunder to upset the Golden State Warriors during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. All that the Thunder had to do was play like they did in the first few games. After all, they were up 3-1 during the series. But in typical Warrior fashion, they were able to steal Game 7 and return to the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant was pondering his own return.
The biggest story of the 2016 NBA Free Agency was where Kevin Durant would be headed the following season. Obviously he didn’t feel that he would be able to get a championship with his team, and, basically, the dynamic duo of him and Russell Westbrook, which defined the Thunder franchise, wasn’t working for him either. Even the Thunder’s seemingly stacked roster and the fact that they were able to pull off a 3-1 lead against a team that just broke the best record in NBA history wasn’t enough for Durant’s loyalty. It wasn’t apart of his plan; he wanted to do what was best for him.
Kevin Durant is the Finals MVP & Russell Westbrook is the MVP. The difference a year makes. pic.twitter.com/W4NXyIaWQU
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) June 27, 2017
However, because of those reasons mentioned above, there was really no doubt among the NBA world that Durant would stay in Oklahoma City. The main contenders to get Kevin Durant, besides OKC, were the Warriors and the Boston Celtics, neither of which made sense. Although Kevin Durant seemed to have fit within the Celtics’ system, it wasn’t likely that he would leave the West for the East only to not make it past LeBron James. It was unlikely for the Warriors to be his future team because it was assumed that Kevin Durant would want to beat that team and seek revenge instead of joining.
But, on July 4, 2016, as everyone was enjoying their barbecue and anticipating fireworks on the day of this nation’s independence, Kevin Durant stunned everyone when he announced his own independence. Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the presumed last resort for him. His decision lit the NBA world on fire and was the top headline of last season.
After many ESPN takes, fiery Twitter debates, heated Facebook NBA group conversations, and an almost season-long media-sparked feud between Westbrook and Durant, Durant accomplished his mission. He is a champion. In a 4-1 series victory, Kevin Durant was finally able to enter a new level of NBA superstardom. Actually, he recently signed a two-year $53 million deal with the Warriors to further his newfound Finals success.
Although his new deal includes a $9 million pay cut(which is in part due to Steph Curry’s historic and well-deserved new contract), it’s clear the Kevin Durant wants to continue to win and realizes that it means being selfless. And that’s something that he could not do in Oklahoma City.
A year ago, Kevin Durant’s life changed, and everyone has witnessed that it was undoubtedly for the better.