For anyone that happens to watch the ESPN show “First Take”, you may have already heard the Stephen A. Smith rants about Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors. For those who haven’t, I can spare you a lot of time by simply summing up what he thinks of the decision: Weak. No matter what your opinion is, there are a lot of folks out there who agree with him. But is Durant’s departure from OKC to Golden State really worse than LeBron leaving the Miami Heat to join the famous group in South Beach? In terms of legacy and reputation, which superstar will ultimately take the biggest hit? Let's look at teammates first, because that is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors here. LeBron James left a Cleveland Cavaliers team in 2010 with teammates like Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Mo Williams, a 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, Antawn Jamison, and J.J. Hickson. The most notable guy on the list is a broken down
In terms of legacy and reputation, which superstar will ultimately take the biggest hit? Let's look at teammates first, because that is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors here. LeBron James left a Cleveland Cavaliers team in 2010 with teammates like Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Mo Williams, a 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, Antwan Jamison, and J.J. Hickson. The most notable guy on the list is a broken down 38-year-old center, which is not very good. Take away LeBron James from this roster, and what you will get is a roster very similar to the ones that missed the playoffs four years in a row when LeBron left.
On the other side, Kevin Durant left an Oklahoma City Thunder team with guys on the squad like Russell Westbrook (who is a superstar by the way), Serge Ibaka (a consistent defensive player of the year candidate), Steven Adams (who is actually a decent center in today's NBA), and a rebounding genius in Enes Kanter. It does not take too much to notice the difference in talent between the two teams. In case that wasn’t evidence enough, we can also look at the situation the two superstars came into to join their new teams.
LeBron James became famous for his decision to join two other stars in South Beach. But the team still had a lot to prove, and the three guys had never played together before (not counting USAB). There was still a big risk involved for all three of the stars to join a team that was being completely remade. This Miami roster was BUILT, and they GREW together. On the other side?
Kevin Durant joins a team with a core that has already won a championship and has won 73 games. True, you could say that they still lost the 2016 championship in the end. True, you could say that they probably would have won with Kevin Durant. But how much of a risk did Kevin really take joining the Warriors? He is really the only new addition to their star-studded core (notice I said core), and he is the only one out of the main players who has to get used to a new lifestyle.
That 2010 Miami Heat team had an almost completely remade roster, and the entire TEAM (not just one guy) had to figure out how their new basketball lives were going to play out. This current 2016 Warriors team was already in place to win long before KD signed the dotted line, and the only thing they have to build now is another shelf to put their trophy on.
Who knows, maybe when its all said and done Durant will return to OKC in a triumphant return that everybody who is in their right mind would love. But he will undeniably be forever remembered for taking the easy way out. Whenever anybody in the future speaks of the legacy of Kevin Durant, will it ever come close to that of Larry Bird’s, or even LeBron’s? Is KD’s move to Golden State, as Stephen A Smith said, weak? That's’ not for me to say…….but it definitely hurts.