About 30 minutes after Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, Warriors forward Draymond Green sat at his locker in full uniform, fiddling with his phone.
“What will get us over this hump,” Green asked himself, “and make us incredible? Not just incredible for a year. What will make us incredible for a long, long time?”
And so, at that locker, in that uniform, less than an hour after the most excruciating loss of his life, Green punched up Kevin Durant’s number. “See what we’re missing,” Green says, recounting the text message he sent Durant. “We need you. Make it happen.”
Green stared at his phone, waiting for a reply.
Durant’s response flashed across the screen: "I'm ready. Let's do this."
First off, Kevin Durant is a grown man and was free to sign wherever he liked. If Michael Jordan was a free agent in 1988 and wanted to sign with the Pistons instead of trying to beat them, he could have made that decision. The fact that Durant won a title with the Warriors doesn't validate his decision and prove the detractors wrong. Of course the Warriors were going to win the championship. They were a 73 win team without Durant, and if not for Draymond's suspension they would have been back to back champs last year.
Durant showed this year what we already knew about him. That he's a top 5 player in the NBA. Is he capable of leading his own team to a title? That question will remain unknown likely forever. Jordan proved he could lead his own team. Bird, Magic, Hakeem, and Isaiah did as well. So yes Durant now has a ring. So does Scott Pollard.
Regarding the texting after last year's Finals, this just confirms what many suspected. Durant wanted to leave Oklahoma City and the Warriors were his first choice. He needed a pathway to allow him to make that move and the Warriors losing in the Finals after the Green suspension gave him a storyline. He was "needed" then. He was the piece that would be added to topple the Cavs. That was enough to convince him that joining the super team that just knocked you out in 7 would be considered ok.
What if Green doesn't foolishly kick LeBron and get suspended. Warriors undoubtedly win the series and Durant is forced to choose his 2nd choice. In my opinion that would have been the Boston Celtics. If Durant had joined the Celtics, this past season's Eastern Conference would have been a great battle, and whichever team advanced would have had a much better chance versus the Warriors in the Finals than we just saw from Cleveland. Definitely would have gone more than 5 games and we'd still have Finals games to look forward to this week.
Kevin Durant chose an easy ring over his legacy. That's fine, but you can't have it both ways. He didn't prove anything by winning a title last night. They were always going to win. Durant didn't finally get past the obstacles and reach the mountain top and grab his ring. He got an elevator ride. He has a ring now. So does JaVale McGee.