Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted little time barbecuing Kevin Durant jerseys when the 7-time All-Star declared that he would be signing with the Golden State Warriors.
For Golden State Warriors fans, the addition of Kevin Durant gave them another reason to celebrate on the Fourth of July.
Kevin Durant has been the heart and soul of OKC since being drafted second overall to the organization in 2007. In eight seasons with the Thunder, KD has led Oklahoma City to six playoff appearances and a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012–ultimately ending in a 4-1 series loss to the Miami Heat.
In 2014, Kevin Durant accepted the Most Valuable Player award in a tear-jerking speech that unfortunately became more famous for “You the real MVP” memes than for the genuine tribute from a son to his mother for years of dedication and sacrifice.
Two years later, Kevin Durant competed in his fourth Conference Finals series. Despite starting off 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors, OKC lost the series 4-3. On July 4th, Kevin Durant would find himself on the same team that eliminated him from the playoffs.
Backlash immediately followed the former MVP’s decision to join the single season win record-holding Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant found himself on the receiving end of the same–if not, worse–villainous treatment that Lebron James got after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami Heat in 2010.
Yes, Golden State is already stacked with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala, among others. They’d survive with or without Durant. KD could’ve become the star of a team with less depth or remained the franchise centerpiece of OKC. However, being a free agent means he’s allowed to sign with whatever team can afford him.
Spectators and analysts have no relevant say in what an athlete chooses to do with their career. Is it understandable that Thunder fans would be upset about losing a talented basketball player that spent nearly a decade with them? Absolutely. Should they be burning his merchandise like a jealous ex-girlfriend? Absolutely not.
Athletes, like any human, are going to make choices that they feel are best for them. Some choices come with support and some don’t. Considering the physicality of professional sports shortening athletes’ careers, who can blame him for trying to win a championship while he can?
Oh wait – right. A bunch of dudes with beer guts shouting at their TVs, that’s who.