Kevin Durant’s decision to join a 73-win team rubbed so many the wrong way. But even the biggest critics in the moment knew, deep down, that he was making the correct choice. Correct if the goal was what most perceive the ultimate goal of sports to be: winning big and winning often. This, of course, did not stop the deluge of hate.
With time has come even more clarity. Durant’s Golden State Warriors sit on the precipice of a third consecutive title. The Oklahoma City Thunder sit on the brink of elimination, awash in Russell Westbrook drama, with no clear future.
It wasn’t guaranteed to work out this way, but it was likely. Durant took his talents to the Bay Area and the seemingly infinite promise out of Oklahoma. If there was ever a doubt that he was doing the right thing, that shred of uncertainty is long gone.
This isn’t a revolutionary argument. It is striking, however, how the gulf has grown between situations. Public perception on Westbrook has turned him from a behind-the-scenes problem to an up-front-and-personal problem. It’s easy to see the headache he creates.
The math has become so clear. Durant could have stayed with his first team and shackled to Westbrook. He could have stomached all the drama and baggage. He could have done all this for the reward of winning absolutely nothing. Revisionist history or not, it’s not a slam-dunk that the Thunder would have won any championships with both guys in tow.
Or he could have gone to Golden State, embraced a new personality, dealt with relatively little nonsense, and won multiple championships. An obvious choice has only become more obvious. Winning solves a lot of problems, especially the problem of not winning.
Durant shouldn’t have wasted a second of his time worrying what the peanut gallery thought of his decision. History will vindicate him even more than he’s already been vindicated, which is significantly.
Even if he leaves for greener pastures. Even if this breakup is messy. Even if he doesn’t come close to the Finals ever again. There is no sane person who would do anything differently.