In what was undoubtedly the most impactful move of the 2016 NBA offseason, free agent superstar Kevin Durant signed a huge contract with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had just broken the NBA record for most wins in a regular season and played in the NBA Finals series last season. Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, a powerhouse team that had reached the Western Conference Finals, to join the Warriors who had beaten the Thunder in that series. His move is extremely controversial for a myriad of reasons, and people in the NBA community either hate it or love it, there is no middle ground.
The most obvious reason why the move remains so controversial is because it would make the Warriors, a team that is arguably the best in the league, even better than they already are. Golden State boasts a starting lineup that includes Stephen Curry, two-time reigning MVP, and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. With the addition of Durant, who won the MVP award three years ago, the Warriors appear nearly unbeatable. Many people complain that the stacked team is unfair to other teams. They think that Durant completely threw off the balance of power in the NBA and the competition for the title will not be very competitive in the upcoming years.
Another reason why many people, mostly OKC fans, object to Durant’s decision is because they feel that he betrayed his old team and made a selfish and dishonorable move. Prior to his move, it appeared that Durant was content with playing on the Thunder. He and Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook worked together as one of the most dynamic duos in the NBA. Therefore, it would have seemed reasonable for Durant to stay with his current team, and fans were not too worried about him leaving. If he left for another team other than the Warriors, OKC fans would have been sad, but not quite disconsolate. However, the fact that he made a completely unprecedented move to join the team that had literally just beaten him threw Thunder fans into a storm of hysteria and rage. Kevin Durant jerseys literally went up in flames all over the country as fans showed their anger. As a dedicated NBA fan, Shiven Rawal (10) condemned Durant’s actions, saying,
“I really think that it was the weakest move by a superstar in all of sports history, in my opinion. It proves that he needs multiple superstars on a team to win a title.”
Historically speaking, it has been very rare for a sports player of KD’s caliber to sign with the team that had just beaten his old team on a scale as great as that of the Western Conference Finals. Many fans see it as the most dishonorable and shameful decision that Durant could have made.
On the other hand, KD’s decision makes sense in a way. In response to criticism, he defended himself, saying that he was simply trying to make the best decision that would help him earn a championship ring. This is a valid reason, since the goal and dream of any professional basketball player is to win a national championship. However, his defense would be more reasonable if the Thunder were not already a championship caliber team; they had a 3-1 lead on the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
Kevin Durant’s change of teams sparked many conflicts and arguments. Depending on how the 2016-17 season goes, it may even go down as one of the most infamous off-season moves in NBA history. Everyone, from basketball analysts to crazy fans to popular Y
outubers, has speculated about how the move might affect the upcoming season, and that is what has fueled much of the controversy. However, until the season actually plays out, the question is left hanging in the air: was Kevin Durant’s move shrewd and heroic or stupid and traitorous?