I’ve never been much a fan of the NBA. For me, college basketball has always seemed the truer sport. Teams feel different. With college ball, you can recognize a club by the defenses or offenses they play. Not true with the NBA. Most teams look and play the same to me. Some just have better superstars than others.
I’m sharing my feelings about the NBA because this season’s playoffs were an anomaly to me. I actually enjoyed them. Teams played their hearts out. Players like LeBron, Steph and Durant (to name a few) were more intense than ever. There were heartbreaks, wonderful storylines and curses were broken. This non-NBA guy was jumping out of his seat when LeBron blocked Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving drilled a three with seconds to go in the championship.
NBA playoff team ball was epic this year. Many teams were on the brink of winning big. Which is why the off-season movement made by superstar Kevin Durant has me befuddled.
To quote ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith (not someone I usually quote as I think he’s a borderline idiot), Oklahoma City was “48 minutes from going to the championship three times.” The team was on the cusp of beating the Warriors as it had a 3-1 advantage in the best of seven series. OKC looked stronger than ever, but it could not get over the hump. I truly thought it was a given that OKC was moving on.
Nonetheless, battles like this one is the stuff that makes lasting rivalries.
KD, instead of embracing his team (one that houses an equally talented player in Russell Westbrook and a coach I liked in college, Billy Donavon), flew the coup — and to the very team that beat him in the playoffs, the Golden State Warriors. Crazy.
Durant moves on and competition is lost.
The move is all about KD winning a championship. He joined an already historic team where the odds of snagging the Larry O’Brien trophy next year are very likely.
But Golden State isn’t the house that KD built. Oklahoma City was. Joining the Warriors is a quick fix for Durant. Sure, he will probably get his trophy, but folks will look on it the same they did when LeBron went to South Beach for his first and second. Only now that LeBron won with his home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, does he receive the adulation he rightfully deserves.
I understand there is a difference between LeBron and Durant. LeBron grew up just outside of Cleveland, while Durant was originally drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved to Oklahoma City. In fact, Durant hails from Washington D.C. And I understand a person must make their decisions based on what’s best for themselves. Durant was a true leader for the Thunder for nine glorious years. He earned the right to move on.
However, from a brand perspective alone, this situation is intriguing to me. Here we have one of the top three basketball players in the world in Kevin Durant. Yet he does not trust the Oklahoma City brand of basketball (and he may have reason not to) or himself for that matter to be willing to cement his legacy there. Rather, he views the Golden State Warriors brand as one being more trustworthy and having a greater potential for championship success.
Ultimately, it’s all bummer as it feels like the exhilarating moments from this year’s playoffs will be lost next year. I don’t know who will beat the Golden State Warriors, who will start four All-Stars and league’s last two MVPs. It’ll only happen if a similar set-up happens in the East. But for now, the spirit of first-rate competition has been lost.