As the two-time Finals MVP and current Brooklyn Nets forward continues to recover from a torn Achilles that he suffered towards the end of the 2019 NBA Finals, we’re still talking about.
Because we want to know what led to his departure from the Warriors. Thanks to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, we can get some answers as to why Durant actually left Golden State. According to the TV personality and radio show host, the 30-year-old veteran left the Warriors because it was Stephen Curry’s team — and not his.
“He wanted to go there, win a couple of rings and then move on,” said Smith. “Golden State was never a permanent situation for him from my understanding. That was never going to be the case. He always had intentions to leave because he knew that would never be his.”
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Kevin Durant’s Arrival Made the Warriors Unbeatable
It’s not a secret that Durant wasn’t appreciated as he probably should have been in Golden State. In each of the two seasons where he was actually fully healthy, the Warriors were unbeatable when it counted. They won eight of nine Finals games against their rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers — the team they lost to in the 2016 NBA Finals before Durant arrived. And they went 16-1 during the 2017 playoffs for the most dominant run by any team in NBA postseason history.
Look, we all know the Warriors were great before Durant arrived. They won the 2015 NBA Finals and had the greatest regular season of any NBA squad in history when they won a league-record 73 games during the 2015-16 season, while also setting another league record with 54 straight home wins.
That all coincided with Curry’s two consecutive MVP awards in which he absolutely shattered 3-point shooting records all while becoming the first unanimous MVP in league history during the 2015-16 season.
But let’s all remember this — as great as they were, Warriors were beatable before Durant’s arrival. They became the only team in NBA Finals history to blow a 3-1 series lead when they did so against the Cavaliers in 2016. Durant’s arrival put them over the hump as to being unbeatable.
It’s also no coincidence that with Durant sidelined due to a calf strain, the Warriors fell behind against what appeared to be an outmatched Toronto Raptors squad in the 2019 NBA Finals by a count of 3-1. Although his Game 5 return was cut short due to the Achilles tear, his energy propelled the team to victory. They would go onto lose Game 6 — and the series — in his absence.
Kevin Durant Cares About Public Perception
We all know that Durant had a great relationship with Curry — not so much Draymond Green, but we all know how Draymond is. Curry and the rest of the Warriors welcomed the former NBA MVP with open arms, especially during the 2016 offseason when the likes of Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala courted him hard.
But we also know how sensitive Durant is regarding his image. No one — not the fans or the media — ever acknowledged the Warriors’ championships as Durant’s teams, despite the fact that he was the dominant player on those title teams, winning the Finals MVP award in both 2017 and 2018.
All of that lack of appreciation finally led to Durant’s exit from Golden State.
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