Thursday, June 8, 2017

Full Court Press: Did Kevin Durant make the right decision?

By Randy Groce, @ImissWiggins

As the NBA Finals have gone into full swing, I wanted to know "are you still mad at Kevin Durant?" Are we still upset because we feel that he chose the easy path to the finals, or do we understand why he made his decision? It has and will continue to be debated over who's decision was worse, LeBron's or Durant's. My take is Durant joined a team that had already won a title and was one game away from winning another. He also immediately joined the team that had just eliminated him from the playoffs. LeBron didn't join the Celtics so as far as I'm concerned the two are completely different.

We can spend hours going back-and-forth over the details of who's decision was worse but for me it simply comes down to why the decision was made in the first place. It's easy as a fan to sit back and criticize Durant's decision, but have any of you actually taken a second and asked yourself why he left without having a negative response to it?

The first reason I believe he left is the exact same reason I believe LeBron left. He had the unfortunate title of being the "best player without a ring". It's OK to have that moniker at the beginning of your career but when you've gone a few years without winning I think the pressure starts to weigh on you. The other reason I believe he left was because he was tired of playing with Russell Westbrook.

I'm not a Russ hater before anyone assumes that, he's actually my favorite player. I think Russ has an unbelievable will to win and plays as hard as possible when he's on the floor, but both Westbrook and Durant are alpha players, they both need the ball they both feel they have to have the ball, but there's only one ball. They both have had their playoff experiences of coming up big and coming up short but they have never truly played well together when it mattered the most.

Kevin Durant is the second best player in the world so there's no excuse for the OKC Thunder to have lost to the Golden State Warriors last year after building a 3-1 series lead. Sometimes having two top five or two top 10 players on the same team that have the same skill set isn't always a positive. Mix in the fact that they did not have a strong head coach to handle the situation and you can see why the team never hit its full potential.

I've had people point to the relationship between LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and say that if that can work ANYTHING can work. Well, it's not that simple and their situation was rare. For starters, regardless of who was in Miami first and who had a ring first (Wade), EVERYONE knows that wherever LeBron James is it's HIS team. Secondly, Wade and LeBron are real friends who genuinely love each other so for them, playing together was going to be fun. Although Durant had won scoring titles and a MVP, Westbrook still felt he was an equal to Durant, not a sidekick.

We saw this with Kobe and Shaq. They won three titles but still clashed with each other until the team was torn apart. Unfortunately some guys choose ego over team. Regardless of the way it went down Durant would be criticized. Stay in OKC, maybe beat the Warriors then lose to the Cavs and then everyone would say "you can't beat LeBron!". Go to another team they'd say "you're stupid for leaving Russ!". So why not join the team that has the best chance to make it to the Finals, and has a great chance of winning it with you being there? If the Warriors win, the main reason will be Durant. He's the best player on the team, and without him last year they didn't win it all.

Personally, I hate the current state of the NBA. We're basically waiting till June to see Cleveland and Golden State every year. I wouldn't mind that if it was organic, but this is basically a condensed version of the NBA All Star game. If the Warriors win it all, what's the Cavs' next move? Trade for Melo? Try to work a deal for Paul George or Jimmy Butler? Who knows how things would've turned out had Durant chosen the Celtics instead of Golden State. Would have made for a great Eastern Conference Final.

What I do know is Kevin Durant is comfortable with his decision and if he wins, who's to say he's wrong?

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