I am born and bred from Oklahoma. I grew up in a town called Lawton, was raised by a sweet and protective mother and a supporting cast of family members who always had my best interests at heart. After finishing school, I left Oklahoma for Cincinnati, Ohio. I was out on my own, understanding how to fend for myself, and effectively learning how to be a man. I experienced so much personal growth, that at some points I thought I'd never leave the Midwest, but I learned from those I respected most that you never know when opportunity knocks. Then it knocked, and I took my talents to the Bay Area to enjoy the next progression of my journey.
So, when I woke up on the day of America's independence to find my cell phone blowing up with messages, calls and tweets regarding the news that Kevin Durant would be joining the Golden State Warriors, I understood exactly why the choice was made and have no anger towards him and his decision.
As an Oklahoma native, of course I'm sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. Talents like KD don't grow on trees, even if Sam Presti somehow has a way of spotting diamonds in the rough more frequently than others. Durant was uniquely ours, even though he played his college ball at the University of Texas and clearly identified with all things D.C., but he never belonged to us.
For eight years, we watched the dude who couldn't bench 185 pounds emerge into one of the greatest scorers of all-time. We also witnessed the man do everything from proving that he was a decent rapper to putting up (and getting Nike to match his) $1 million donation to relief efforts towards the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma. Watching people grow can be one of the most gratifying things you'll ever experience, anyone with kids, mentees and younger siblings can relate.
When Durant's announcement posted to The Player's Tribune, I was reluctant to read it, because I already knew what the message meant going forward. However, there were some words in there that really stood out:
I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
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.
It's easy to forget that these people that we laud as superstars are also real human beings who experience the ups and downs of life like the rest of us. This is what being a grown-up is all about, making tough choices in life.
The business of basketball made this decision an easy one. The greatest scorer of a generation has teamed up with the best regular season team of all-time. The weakest link in the Warriors' starting five has now become its strongest, and the Warriors will now have the opportunity to make that previous thing called "the death lineup" look like your 8-year old nephew picking up the controller playing NBA 2K for the first time. Golden State will have two of the three best players in the world, four of the top 15, and an organization to support them that is as world class as they come.
The lifestyle decision might have been an even easier one. The Bay Area is a progressive place to live, full of innovators, thinkers and great weather. Silicon Valley is the place where people take great ideas and turn them into reality. San Francisco provides anyone from the East Coast a big city vibe they can relate too. And Oakland, man...there's nothing like The Town. A soulfully eclectic place that has no peer anywhere in the world.
For now, this isn't about debating about what place or team was better than the other, this is about appreciating the time that was well spent for both parties. KD in OKC made the Sooner State known for more than just an elite college football team and a song that's named after the state itself. I'll always appreciate him for that, as there will be no burning of jerseys or any other KD paraphernalia around these parts.
Enjoy your time in the Bay Area KD, I look forward to rooting against you while watching you grow as a player and a man.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”