NBA

Did Kevin Durant Deserve to Have his Jersey Retired by the Warriors?

After spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Sonics/Thunder franchise, Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors. That partnership lasted for three seasons before he signed a new contract in free agency with the Nets in 2019. After Durant announced his intention to go to Brooklyn, Warriors Joe Lacob said that no player on the team would wear the No. 35 jersey again, as long as he is the team’s chairman, essentially retiring Durant’s jersey, an honor that is typically reserved for a player who has a lengthy history with a team.

Kevin Durant’s career with the Warriors

Despite only playing with the Warriors for three seasons, Durant certainly made his mark with the team and its fans. He averaged at least 25.1 points per game in all three seasons with the team and was named to the Western Conference all-star team every year during his short tenure with the Warriors. He built up his games played throughout his time in Oakland, going from 62 in 2016-17 to 68 in 2017-18 and 78 this past season, his highest total since the 2013-14 campaign. In his first season with the Warriors, Durant set a career -high with a field goal percentage of .537.

Success in the postseason

The Warriors made deep playoff runs in all three of Durant’s seasons with the team. They won the title in each of his first two seasons with the team, and he such a big role in those championship runs that he was named the Finals MVP both times. 

Golden State made it to the Finals again this season — making it a perfect three-for-three in Finals appearances with Durant — but lost to the Raptors in six games. Durant didn’t get to play much in the 2019 Finals, though, because he suffered a torn Achilles in the Game 5, which will keep him out of action for most of next season, if not all of it.

Moving on from the Warriors

As the Warriors move on from Oakland to play in their new arena in San Francisco, Kevin Durant is moving on from the Warriors. He announced on June 30 that he planned to sign with the Nets once free agents could officially sign with their new teams, and he signed the contract with Brooklyn on July 7. The Warriors hoped he would re-sign with them for $221 million over five seasons, but he instead opted to go with a four-year deal worth $164 million with the Nets, in what officially went down as a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State. 

By going to Brooklyn, Durant gets to play with Kyrie Irving, who also signed a four-year contract with Brooklyn when free agency officially opened up earlier this month. Despite the short time Durant played with the Warriors, he helped them win multiple championships and should probably have his jersey retired.

The Warriors react to Durant’s departure

Joe Lacob (right) promised that no one will wear Kevin Durant's No. 35 Golden State Warriors jersey anytime soon.
Kevin Durant’s No. 35 is off limits, according to Warriors executive Joe Lacob (right). | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When he announced he was retiring Durant’s jersey, Lacob said that the Warriors “thank KD for all of his contributions to the team,” and he continued by saying that they “wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey.” Lacob also noted that Durant carried himself with “class and dignity” both on and off the court, while committing himself to helping the community, which helped Durant earn the league’s Community Assist Award. 

When news of Durant’s intention to sign with the Nets broke, Warriors teammate Stephen Curry got on a plane from Shanghai to New York to have a face-to-face meeting with him. During the meeting, Curry showed the two-time Finals MVP respect and let him know that he appreciated the three seasons they played together, and he wished him luck in his future with the Nets.