Durant has won his first championship at the age of 28. While it is understandable for fans to be frustrated over the formation of another “super team”, Durant may get the last laugh as he gets fitted for his first ring.
While it is not always a fair metric, there is a difference in basketball legacies between those without titles and those who have achieved basketball’s biggest honor. Ask Charles Barkley and Karl Malone what it is like to constantly have an asterisk attached to your career. Neither Barkley or Malone had an opportunity to play on a team as talented as the Warriors.
These discussions are rarely nuanced as players are divided into the haves and have-nots. Durant’s unpopular decision of signing with the Warriors, the team that had just defeated the Thunder in the playoffs, is likely to redirect his entire legacy.
Durant is a rare seven footer who can handle the ball like a point guard. Over his career, Durant has averaged 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. The one glaring statistic as Durant considered his free agent options was zero championships.
Durant allowed himself to imagine what a championship might feel like prior to the finals in an interview with The Vertical’s Michael Lee.
It wouldn’t mean my life was complete. I’ve got a lot of life I want to lead and I’ve got a lot of [expletive] I want to achieve. So if I win a ring, it would be fun to experience that moment when the buzzer sounds and embracing my teammates in the locker room and all that stuff that comes with it, but after that, what’s next? That’s how I look at it. What’s next for me? But it’s that high. It’s that two-, three-week high, I can tell. You can tell when teams win a championship. I saw last year, the Cavs, they all went to Vegas, they all hung out in Vegas for a night. But that two-week high, I want to experience that, but it’s not going to complete me at all, as far as being a person or what life is all about. At the end of the day, it’s going to be another basketball milestone that I reach, if it happens. We’ll see. But if I don’t do it, I’m not going to ball up in my room and not come out. I’m going to work on my game and enjoy myself.
The irony is it was the man Durant is going up against, LeBron James, who knows what it is like for Durant. The roles were reversed for James who left the Cavs in 2010 to sign with the Heat.
At the time, James was criticized for his lack of titles in addition to assembling a super team in Miami. Seven years and three championships later, this is all a distant memory as James’ decision to go to Miami helped solidify his legacy as one of the best players in NBA history.
As Durant gets his first championship, remember that rings carry much greater consequence than any clever memes do. Durant and the Warriors have set themselves up to put their squad in the conversation with the some of the elite teams in NBA history.
Fans can call Durant’s move selfish or choose to focus on the unselfishness it took from the Warriors players to share the spotlight. Regardless, the championship banner is about to be raised at Oracle Arena. Time to add some rings to those snake emojis.