Kevin Durant’s 4th of July Madness
Kevin Durant’s 4th of July Madness
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared the thirteen American colonies as a new nation–the United States of America–and no longer part of the British Empire. The day would become an American holiday; a day of pride, remembrance, and celebration across the great nation. Fireworks bursting in front of the night sky while sparklers are glaring in front of a young child’s immense grin are common images thought upon for the Fourth of July. But, in 2016, it was way different. An Independence Day decision made by one of the NBA’s greatest players would send thousands of Oklahoma City Thunder fans–as well as NBA fans in general–into a tizzy, upsettingly remembering the news they heard that morning.
What was the horrible news? The city’s most beloved son, Kevin Durant has decided to part ways with the team to join forces with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in Golden State with the Warriors. Durant posters are being taken down all across the city. People are already comparing Durant’s departure to LeBron James’ 2010 “The Decision” to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. People are already burning Durant’s jersey. Oklahoma City fans will always remember and appreciate what Durant did for their city, but have lost some respect for the one-time MVP. Some people may argue Kevin Durant’s decision to leave is a decision not to be bashed; the NBA is a business, you do what is best for you. Others feel ashamed of Durant because he left an already great team and his friend and fellow All-Star, Russell Westbrook in the dust for a team that ended his championship hopes in 2016. If a player feels the money aspect is the most important, they’d sign for the most dough possible. If you’re all about championships and being a winner, you’ll do everything in your power to hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June. In this case, Kevin Durant is all about winning, he doesn’t care about his legacy.
Loyalty is a dying art in the world of sports. Kevin Durant’s decision to leave an already great Oklahoma City Thunder team is another example of it. Players like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki are the last breed of NBA stars to never “jump ship” when their team is not performing up to par. Durant’s team finished the 2015-16 season with a 55-27 record, but choked in the Western Conference Finals after being up in the series 3-1. Sure, their playoffs exit was disappointing, but they were on the cusp of the NBA Finals. The ability to remain apart of a losing team is something only the best can do; not particularly skill wise, but mentally. Durant surely doesn’t have the loyal or cut-throat mentality; he signed with the team that shattered his long-time dream of winning a championship.
Winners are always remembered. Players like Robert Horry, John Salley, Steve Kerr, and Will Perdue weren’t superstars, but key pieces to their team. All four of those players wouldn’t be remembered if it wasn’t for their four-or-more ring count. Oh, and don’t forget the clutch shots Horry and Kerr nailed for their respective teams to bail Michael Jordan (Kerr), Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Byant out (Horry)… we didn’t. On the other hand, everyone specifically remember the ringless players. Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton are a few of those notable Hall of Fame players. Of course, they are all legendary players in their own right, but people abbreviate their place in history because they are ringless. In this case, say Kevin Durant wins a ring or two with the Golden State Warriors… his name in the record books will certainly be overlooked because he joined superstar players to chase rings. After hearing of the Durant decision, Charles Barkley admits he is happy he “never cheated [his] way to a championship” like Durant plans on doing.
Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors creates tons of speculation. How many championships will the All-Star-studded lineup win? Will Durant care about sometimes being the second, even third option for the team? Will they win more than 73 games like the 2015-16 Warriors? After his team improved in the offseason, why did he leave? This team must live up to the hype. Anything less than clinching a Finals berth should be considered a bust.