When we were kids in the driveway, did any of us dream of disappearing in the final three games of the Western Conference Finals, watching our team (the one that drafted us) fall and then signing with the team that beat us and THEN hitting the game-winning 3?
I mean, I didn’t. If you find that shocking then so be it.
I don’t debate that Durant had the right to do what he did. It doesn’t matter to me that he seized on an opportunity to expand his game (sure). I’m not even that upset at the continued narrative that Russell Westbrook is at fault.
What has me torqued is that it’s a punk move. Not just by Durant, by the Warriors. I promise you, they did not need KD. They had won one title and were a LeBron supernova performance away from now being on number four. The Warriors were not exposed in 2016, the only deficiency they displayed was getting rattled a bit when LeBron went crazy. They would have won these last two with or without Durant.
It’s a brilliant move by the Warriors, by the way. Taking arguably the most productive player not on your squad out-of-play, even though his iso style does not fit your system is a stroke of genius. They’ve been mentioned as interested in Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis for this offseason. I suppose they could have 14-15 of the best players in the league just on their squad, assembly-lining titles.
It’s also kind of a chump move. It’s like putting all the sliders (are there still sliders?) at zero on 2K and racking up stats with your created player. It’s okay for a bit but it’s not fulfilling because you know you’ve handicapped the competition. Also, when you play like that and then go online or have a buddy over, you get destroyed because you don’t really know how to play the game.
There’s danger in becoming the bad guy. Until now, the Warriors were as popular as anyone has ever been in visiting arenas. Steph was beloved.
Then he threw his mouthguard. There were cracks. The cockiness started to ramp up, the flopping got outrageous. Did anyone notice him throwing himself on the floor every shot in the Finals? It was embarrassing and it felt like a coffin nail. Add Green’s antics and Durant’s narcissism and the shine is rapidly coming off the Dubs train.
It won’t be as easy to be hated on the road. It won’t be as easy when opponents don’t want to be friends. As evidenced by the Rockets and the Cavaliers reactions, the Warriors are not well-received.
Durant’s prolific scoring and renewed attention to the defensive end are vintage but he still looks like a fish out-of-water with the Warriors. Another thing that’s gone from the Golden State mystique is that run-and-fun crazy Splash Brothers show. In it’s place is a lot of half-court offense. Effective, considering they are the champs but nowhere near as engaging or fun to watch.
They are still the team to beat. They will win championships until they decide not to. They won’t stay beloved, though. Steph has changed. Draymond rubs people wrong. Durant represents every me-first, soulless hired-gun meme. That will increase the challenge for the Warriors.