The 2017 NBA Finals has been the stage for a special player who has taken a special step, despite his controversial move last offseason. The spotlight is now on Kevin Durant and his seemingly triumphant postseason with the Warriors.
A decision on 4th of July 2016 did it’s deed by setting off plenty of fireworks. Once Kevin Durant announced he was taking his talents to join the 73-win Golden State Warriors, it was solidified that the Warriors had assembled one of the most talented teams in NBA history.
As Durant rose to knockdown a game-clinching 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to give the Warriors a 114-113 lead and eventually, a Game 3 victory to go up 3-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals, an instant thought manifested of Durant making that declaration last July. His resolution to join Golden State was met with plenty of criticism and antagonizing. In reality, that resentment was rightfully depicted.
For those who were deeply against LeBron James waving goodbye to the city of Cleveland for sunny South Beach to join the Miami Heat in 2011, Durant’s choice to depart the Oklahoma City Thunder was significantly “worse”. The Warriors did not need Durant. They just manufactured arguably the greatest regular season in NBA history by going 73-9 last season without his services. A team that was one win away from capturing another NBA title last season. All without Durant.
His motive for joining the Warriors was understood however. Simply put, Durant wants a championship. It’s the reason why he’s playing the sport. It’s the reason why he’s been the best player in the Finals so far. He wants a ring. In that aspect, I understand why he departed the Thunder.
I just may not agree wholeheartedly with joining the team that presented the biggest roadblock. Nonetheless, that is done.
These Finals have shown us a different Kevin Durant. One that is bold. One that is focused. An athlete that has evolved into a player that has made it a mission to fully define his July 2016 decision.
This is not the Durant we saw in Oklahoma City for eight seasons and one season in Seattle as a rookie. At the conclusion of what was his 10th season in the league, Durant has shown considerable growth. Growth that you normally don’t see from veterans at this stage of their career. Scoring outings of 38, 33, and 31 against the Cavaliers so far has opened the curtains to a Durant that appears to be not only making a statement about winning a championship but also making a response to all the individuals who were against his decision. One that may be telling former Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook that he made the right decision to depart.
Whether you’re like me who believe that joining the Warriors was strategic but somewhat frail or someone who absolutely approved his solution, Durant has decided to seize the moment. Against what some believe is the best player on the planet in LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Durant has risen to greater heights.