New Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant has given plenty of reasons why he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Bay Area. He’s talked about the Warriors’ culture, having more fun and a great chance at winning his first championship, among other things.
But in a new interview with Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone, Durant said he “damn sure wasn’t going there if they’d won.” That of course is referring to the Warriors failing to win their second consecutive championship by historically blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Whether or not this is actually true, based on some of Durant’s other answers in this interview, it sure seems like he was finished in Oklahoma City even if Golden State had won it all. The on-court relationship with Russell Westbrook had grown stale, the front office hadn’t done enough and a fresh start was needed:
Though he’s too shrewd to say it, that series of betrayals eventually broke his heart. “For nine years, he refused to speak a word against that team – he loved those guys and that city,” says his mom, Wanda Durant, who’s been his best friend and confidante since he started his b-ball journey at the age of eight. “But this summer he said, ‘Mama, I can’t do it anymore. They’re not in this thing with me, we’re not together like we were – I feel like I need something different.’ ”
The “betrayals” referenced by Solotaroff have to do with the Thunder failing to add a “proven third option” after trading away James Harden, a deal that’s long been considered controversial. Durant lamented the Thunder not getting that key veteran guy (Solotaroff mentions Ray Allen in Miami and Kevin Love in Cleveland as examples) and instead just getting younger. That could be in reference to additions like Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters, two talented yet flawed players acquired in the last few seasons.
Durant’s free agency was fascinating in its own right, but it’s even more interesting to think about what he would’ve done if the Warriors had sealed the deal. He clearly meshed with the players and front office, but would he really have declined the opportunity to join them if they’d won it all? We’ll never know.