Kevin Durant is long gone from the Golden State Warriors.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since July: KD is a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
Million Dollar Question: What if KD didn’t get hurt?
Would he have stayed with the Golden State Warriors? Signed with the Los Angeles Lakers?
Could he have joined the New York Knicks?
One person breaks it down more simply: Kenny Smith.
“They possibly could’ve won that game,” two-time NBA Champion and TNT analyst, Kenny Smith tells me referring to the 2019 NBA Finals where Durant tore his right Achilles during Game 5 of that series against the Toronto Raptors.
“Yeah so if KD hadn’t gotten hurt, they probably would’ve gotten better. It took a turn, because how do you leave a back to back championship team? How do you leave Oklahoma if you won the championship that year? You can’t.”
“My road back starts now,” Durant posted on a now-deleted Instagram following his surgery in June.
“I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way,” Durant wrote on Instagram about the injury he suffered against Toronto in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday. “I’m hurting deeply, but I’m OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat.”
“I can’t tell another man what to do,” Los Angeles Lakers center, Dwight Howard told AM New York’s Derrell Johnson this summer.
“As a player, you never want to play hurt. When you get out there and play and lose, everyone’s going to say: ‘Well, you didn’t look hurt to me.’ or whatever it may be. So you have to do what’s going to be best for you in that situation and understand that your body is what you use to make money and while you’re playing you have to make sure you take care of it.
Every place he’s gone, KD has raised his value.
A two-time NBA Champion, Durant, 31 is a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
The ten-time NBA All Star also has the distinction of being named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and winning the NBA’s regular season Most Valuable Player of the Year as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder
For those tardy to the party: KD won the NBA’s scoring title four times. His journey is unique and his alone.
I was reminded of it when KD once told me how influential retired NBA Hall of Famer, Karl Malone was to him. “He had some great advice for me in how he approached the game every single day,” Durant told me after winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2014.
“He was one of the most coachable guys and played the game the right way every time he stepped onto the court. He was the ultimate team player and it’s been great getting to know him. My hope is that I can be like Karl was to me to kids today and be a role model for them to learn how to be strong and kind on and off the court.”
In our chat, Durant shared how much Michael Jordan influenced him: “Michael Jordan changed the culture of basketball on and off the court,” KD told me.
“His legacy is much more than just what he’s done with championships. I hope to be able to drive change like he did both on and off the court and follow in the footsteps he laid out.”