Kevin Durant played 8 seasons in Oklahoma City. They made the Western Conference Finals each of the last 5 seasons KD was healthy in OKC. From 2009 to 2016 the Thunder won fewer than 50 games twice. They won just 45 games in 2014-2015 when Durant missed 55 games and won 47 in the lockout-shortened 2011-2012. That was the season they made the Finals.
Hard to believe that was five years ago. And despite all the success Durant had in Oklahoma City, what with all the winning and individual success, it doesn’t really seem like much because of the all-or-nothing way we’re forced to look at everything these days. I know Kevin Durant is great at basketball, but based on hanging out online, I think I actually might have been under the impression that he’s never really done anything. Turns out his teams win a tick over 2 out of every 3 games they play. Turns out they just ran into the eventual NBA Champions in 4 of 5 seasons: San Antonio Spurs in ’14, Miami Heat in ’12, Dallas Mavericks in ’11, Los Angeles Lakers in ’10. Then they blew a 3-1 series lead against a 73-win Warriors team.
Can you really blame the guy for going somewhere he could win 4 straight postseason series? Even if it meant giving up a chance to be like some of the guys who beat him over the last decade? Check out these comments from Durant way back in 2015 after his season had ended early because of injury. Via ESPN:
“I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don’t really think about anywhere else,” Durant told Revolt TV in a recent interview. “I hear it all the time, don’t get me wrong, and once you hear it you’re kind of like [looks up, thinking]. But for me, I love staying in the moment, and I’m one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career.
“Kobe [Bryant], Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki type. That’s awesome,” he said. “But you never know what the future holds sometimes and how teams may feel about you after a while, but I love it here and I would love to get my jersey retired here.”
“I love playing for Oklahoma City, man. There’s just a certain level of pride that I have when I play with that Oklahoma City on my chest,” he said then. “So that’s the only thing I’m focused on. Everybody knows that I represent where I come from that no matter where I play at, no matter what arena. But I’m just focused on playing with Oklahoma City. It feels like home now. That’s where I am.”
Can you blame Durant? Was it his fault his teams came up *this* short in OKC? Or was it the fact that the organization was unable to give him a better supporting cast? Yeah, its the organization. For a minute there, I forgot the Thunder traded James Harden for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and picks that turned into Steven Adams, Alex Abrines and Mitch McGary.
The modern equivalent of that trade would be the Warriors trading Stephen Curry for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, Steven Adams, Alex Abrines and Mitch McGary.
Kevin Durant got what he deserved by moving to Golden State. So did the Oklahoma City Thunder. The rest of the league is just collateral damage.