It’s officially official: Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior.
It hadn’t really sunk in until after the press conference. But it’s sunk in now, and the seven-footer with a mean handle and deadly jump shot will suit up in blue and gold next season.
For me, there was an odd feeling swirling around the signing that caused a seismic shift in the Western Conference. It should be sheer joy from the standpoint of a Warriors fan.
DEATH LINEUP MINUS HARRISON BARNES PLUS KEVIN DURANT LKAJDSLAKJSDLFKJASDLKDLFKADJ.
The guy who historically has given the Warriors (and the rest of the league) fits is leaving arguably Golden State’s biggest threat in the West to come play for them. The team that was already a contender signed the best available free agent. This is a dream scenario.
The first worrisome aspect of the signing was the mass exodus of players from a team that won 140 games over two years. Dismantling a championship favorite goes against all convention. On the other hand, so does Kevin Durant. He is one of very few guys in the history of the league who is worth that kind of drastic alteration to a championship roster.
The other aspect that served as a damper on a full on celebration was that Durant wasn’t leaving on his own accord and that a slew of outside forces ultimately pushed him to the Bay Area. That issue bounced around in my head a lot as reports came out about Durant’s intentions while he met with a handful of teams over the first few days of free agency. I was afraid he had come to Golden State for one ultimately disappointing year and then opt out to be “the man” elsewhere.
Part of my fear of this was quelled when it was put in this perspective from our very own Eduardo Maisonet III. The rest of my reservations were put to rest watching Durant in his finest “I dress nice in Vegas but only play $5 tables” suit effortlessly breeze through his first press conference.
Sitting between Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers, Durant seemed at ease with his decision to choose Golden State over Oklahoma City.
He used the words “real” and “organic” to describe the Warriors’ pitch. He talked about the closeness the Warriors have and the ease he fit in with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. He cracked a joke about Thompson texting him and how Thompson exceeded his expectations as a person because Durant “didn’t even know he had a phone.”
Steve Kerr quipped that he hadn’t decided yet whether Durant would start.
The press conference was lighthearted and fun — just like the Warriors. Fun has been such a vital part of the culture over the course of Golden State’s run over the past two seasons. It turns out fun is what Durant was looking for, and the Warriors delivered it.
“I’ve got a short amount of time left to play basketball. I just want to enjoy every single day of it.”
That’s the money quote. That’s what shuts out the noise of ring chasing, of loyalty and of cowardice. Durant plays a game for a living, and he wants to have fun playing that game. He knows he’ll be lucky to get 10 more years in the NBA before hanging up his sneakers forever. Durant has far more years left without basketball than he does with it, and the Warriors give him the best chance to enjoy himself while he’s still able to play in the NBA.
Yes, the expectations for this team will be astronomical. The Warriors not only have to back up a 73-win season and another Finals appearance, but now they have assembled a team that MUST win. There’s no excuses for anything less than a championship, and surely Durant knows that. Surely he knows there’s no margin for error, and this season is a pivot point for his legacy.
If that stress was too much, a guy looking for fun would have avoided it, but Durant is ready to face it head on. Whether you’re rooting for the Warriors or rooting against them, the 2016-17 NBA season should be a lot of fun.
Experiment 626. Coffee drinker and cat enthusiast. Pro-avocado. Anti-sac bunt. Habitual bat flipper. Alex Smith apologist. Yoenis Cespedes fanboy.