Up until the time to submit this story, push send, I waited for an announcement, some breaking news report stating that Kevin Durant had changed his mind, reneged, rescinded his decision to depart the Oklahoma Thunder the way DeAndre Jordan changed his mind last season after committing to the Dallas Mavericks’ max offer deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers before Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban could get Jordan’s signature on the contract.
Jordan’s Clipper teammate, Blake Griffin, initiated action to convince Jordan to stay, flying to his home in Houston, Texas. Chris Paul, another Clipper teammate, interrupted his Caribbean vacation with buddies LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to join them.
A contingency of head coach and team president Doc Rivers, team owner Steve Ballmer and Clipper players Paul Pierce and J.J. Redick also rushed to join them. Several of the players stayed until Jordan could officially sign his Clippers contract and prevented Cuban from communicating with their guy.
There have been no special bulletins.
Golden State won over Durant by sending their contingent of Warrior representatives in to woo the free agent in meetings he’d set up in the Hamptons this past weekend.
Comprising Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, head coach Steve Kerr, general manager Bob Myers and majority team owner Joe Lacob, the Golden State representatives were from just one of the six teams allowed to make a presentation to Durant.
The Boston Celtics brought Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady to help their pitch. Then came the Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat and his now former team, the Thunder, who had two chances to meet.
These selected teams each had two hours to impress Durant. Oklahoma had been courting, wooing, sucking up to their prized possession for nine years. Were there any extra bonus points for time served?
The 6-foot-9 Durant, who amazingly has officially taken his talents to the South Beach of California, the Golden State, for two years, $54 million, joins a Warrior team that was just one game away from defeat in the Western Conference Finals by Oklahoma several weeks ago, an intact top-four league team, a Western Conference three seed behind the two best, the Warriors and the Spurs. Many believed that Oklahoma would have been a better match against the Eastern Conference Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
“You get knocked down, but you keep getting back up, keep fighting,” said Durant the civic leader, an ambassador for the State of Oklahoma, while accepting his MVP trophy in 2014.
“It’s the perfect place for me,” he said. “The grass isn’t always greener somewhere else.” He now seems to refute that thought two years later.
To fully understand the impact of Durant’s departure, know that he isn’t Al Horford, the other big-name defection, departing the Atlanta Hawks for the Boston Celtics, two of the NBA’s current mid-level franchises. Durant is one of the NBA’s best, pairing up with the NBA’s best, a team that just won 73 out of 82 regular-season games. The richest have gotten richer. One of the league’s best shooters is joining three others. It exceeds James teaming with Chris Bosh and Wade in Miami. On paper for now, the new dynasty exists.
“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life, and my playing career,” stated Durant, 27, in announcing his decision in Derek Jeter’s online magazine, the Player’s Tribune, which features stories written solely by the athletes.
Durant, called weak and spineless by several noted writers, had ingratiated himself into the OKC community, restoring basketball courts and donating substantial sums of money for programs in Oklahoma schools. He’s also noted for his $1 million donation to assist relief efforts after devastating tornadoes ripped through the state in 2013. Certainly, a statue of Durant would one day be erected in Oklahoma.
Maybe it was problems co-existing on the court with superstar teammate Russell Westbrook, their new head coach Billy Donovan or the money that the Thunder didn’t spend on retaining James Harden, now with the Houston Rockets several years ago. Maybe it’s the three straight losses to the Warriors in this year’s Western Conference Finals. Maybe it’s a combination of them all. Maybe it’s unforeseen. I wouldn’t count on that statue right now.
The grass may not be greener somewhere else, but the sun sure does seem to be shining a little brighter, and for a little longer, in the Golden State.