In the wise words of Drake and Future, what a time to be alive.
The Kevin Durant sweepstakes turned out to be a lot more than anyone bargained for, including the Celtics, who actually ended up with a legitimate shot at Durant, making use of New England
icon God Tom Brady in their pitch. After the sudden acquisition of Al Horford and rumors that the Celtics were targeting Jimmy Butler, the team and its fans were quickly thrown into a 24-hour period of complete free agent frenzy, the likes of which we haven’t seen since, oh that’s right, never. One of the more bizarre yet somewhat expected moments of the Durant extravaganza was when reports surfaced that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer actually cried during the team’s pitch. Real, genuine tears. I guess we should expect as much from a guy who sits with the fans and behaves like your obnoxious friend who paints his stomach every time he goes to a Patriots game.
The past week has certainly been one of the more interesting ones in recent memory for the NBA fan, as free agency heated up in ways we haven’t seen since 2010, which was highlighted by LeBron James and his polarizing free agency selection, famously aired in prime time as “The Decision”.
That was then, this is now, and Kevin Durant has flipped the basketball world upside down by taking his talents to Golden State to play with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Let me repeat this for emphasis. Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA today, the 2014 league MVP, will be joining forces with the splash brothers and Draymond Green, forming what appears on paper to be one of the most skilled lineups in NBA history.
It’s a move that many, including myself, highly doubted Durant would make, considering his ties to Oklahoma City and the success they had last year despite losing to his new team in the Western Conference Finals. There is no doubt that this team will be great, but Durant’s decision carries a lot more than that. Durant’s choice to join up with an all-time great team has opened up several debates, and the actual basketball team is only a small part of it.
Pardon me for a moment while I advocate for the old geezers of the NBA who view this trade as an abomination of everything they stand for. You see, years ago, back in the heydays of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, players had a stronger tendency to stay in a place that allowed them to compete head-to-head against other superstars, a battle of one star and their supporting cast versus another. However, in today’s NBA, there is a strong inclination for players to link up with other stars, thus forming a “super team”.
In recent memory, there have been a few of these teams, all of varying success. Many people point to the 2008 Boston Celtics as the league’s first team in the “big 3” era, with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen all playing vital parts in bringing a championship to Boston. They weren’t met with a ton of controversy for this, but the recent super team of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh left a bad taste in the mouths of NBA fans who would rather see more parity in one of the most predictable leagues in modern sports.
Many people are drawing comparisons between the 2010 Miami Heat saga and this latest installment of free agent frenzy. However, we must be careful with these comparisons. LeBron was met with harsh criticism for the way in which he announced his decision, and less harsh criticism for the choice itself. He was labeled as a villain, betraying his hometown in search of titles. If you rooted against LeBron James and the Heat then, how could you possibly root for the Warriors now? This is a textbook example of a player chasing rings, and that is fine for some people. It is fun to watch this greatness, even for those who are only watching in the hopes that it crumbles. Durant has every right in the world to go to the Warriors, and it’s honestly hard to blame him given their talent. He’s not up on a stage surrounded by fog machines yelling “not 5, not 6, not 7”, but if LeBron was criticized for linking up with former enemies on the court, shouldn’t Durant face the same criticism for joining a team that just crushed his title hopes as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder?
This story will be very interesting to monitor over the summer, but one thing is for sure: The Warriors just adopted another splash brother, and he is ready to make some waves.