Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant took some time before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics (if they are still held, at any rate) to talk to fans about his time with the Golden State Warriors. Durant, who spent three seasons with the Warriors before signing with the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent in 2019, pushed back against the notion he left the Bay Area with any ill will toward his former team.
Durant signed with Golden State in the summer of 2016, shortly after the Warriors had blown a 3–1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Before that loss, Golden State had come back from down 3–1 to defeat Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
Kevin Durant decided to go to the Warriors, and that got the ball rolling on a debate that continues even though KD is now two seasons removed from the Dubs.
Kevin Durant became the bad guy when he signed with the Golden State Warriors
The villain’s cloak was draped over Kevin Durant’s shoulders after he opted to leave Oklahoma City. To many fans, after all, players must be loyal to the team that drafted them. That is despite the fact that team is perfectly within its rights to trade, release, or otherwise indiscriminately impact a player’s career).
Durant was called everything from a shameless opportunist to an outright coward by fans and media pundits alike. He often got salty in response to the criticism.
Even after two NBA titles and two Finals MVPs with the Warriors, Durant was vilified by many. He became the embodiment of the no-win scenario. Superstars are to win titles. But a superstar must also comply with a very thick book of unwritten rules, or those titles are diminished or completely ignored.
Woe befalls you if you are a superstar without a ring (hi, Charles Barkley). But you’re also subject to a tarnished legacy if you go about it the wrong way (hi, Gary Payton). Damned if you do, it seems, and damned if you don’t.
But give Kevin Durant credit. He is determined to go down swinging.
Kevin Durant says he had no problems with Stephen Curry
During a chat on Twitter Spaces, as reported by NBC Sports Bay Area, Kevin Durant stood by his long-held claim. Durant believes his collaboration with fellow former NBA MVP Stephen Curry with the Golden State Warriors was beneficial to both. He also refuted the idea that he was jealous of the status Curry held with Bay Area fans.
“Show me any indication of me ever being pissed off about not getting no love in the arena. Ever. Any video of me getting pissed? Have you seen that from me? Or did you hear that through a bunch of narratives being created? Like, ‘I hate my teammates.’ Or ‘I’m jealous.’ Or ‘I didn’t get enough fan love.’ What? I saw my jersey all around that arena.
“Everywhere I went in the Bay Area, people showed me love. I never talked about that. So where did that come from?”Kevin Durant
Durant pointed to a specific narrative that put him in the crosshairs. Ethan Sherwood Strauss wrote The Victory Machine about the Warriors title teams. Durant suggested the book was where all the negativity surrounding his relationship with his teammates started.
“Ethan Strauss wrote a book about how I was saying I was pissed about how I didn’t get any love from the fans and how I’m jealous of Steph and Mo Speights. You believe Ethan Strauss over me?”Kevin Durant
With the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant is part of another star-studded roster. But it’s one that came up short in its first playoff run.
Can the Brooklyn Nets match what the Golden State Warriors accomplished?
In a five-season span from 2014–19, the Golden State Warriors played in five straight NBA Finals and won three championships.
Kevin Durant missed the 2019–20 season recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. His return was marred at times by hamstring and thigh injuries, and he also missed three games in COVID-19 protocols.
In all, Durant played a little less than half of the regular season. But in 35 games, he showed he was still the same KD.
With co-stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden either out or limited in the playoffs, Durant nearly single-handedly carried the Nets to the conference finals. A potential series-clinching 3 became a 2-pointer because of oversized shoes. Moments later, Brooklyn lost Game 7 in overtime to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Kevin Durant’s legacy is a work in progress, but it’s complicated. His personality and the surrounding narratives make that inevitable.