Yesterday Kevin Durant made one of the biggest decisions of, not only his life, but NBA history. While no championship is guaranteed, Durant has made it extremely favorable for himself and the Golden State Warriors.
Not since Moses Malone became a 76er in 1982, has a league MVP-candidate left their own team to join a proven title contender. With all the excitement and assumed success Durant is bringing to Oakland, he is also taking all of his talent and fame away from Oklahoma City. Which has expectantly left many Oklahoma City fans upset.
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Some of the more emotional fans have even taken to burning Durant’s old jersey. Which is indeed one of the most common ways adults act like benevolent children. Besides the fact they are wasting time, money (Official NBA jerseys are not cheap), and energy burning jerseys they could easily throw away or donate. These fans are incredibly short-sighted.
On top of the fact that Durant is the most accomplished player in their franchise's extremely brief history, he is likely the rarest combination of talents in the NBA. While LeBron James is likely the best player in the league (possibly ever) and Stephen Curry is the best shooter in NBA history, Durant is basketball’s version of an alien. With the handles and shot of the average NBA shooting guard, but the height of a power forward, there is no player quite like Kevin Durant.
Oklahoma City fans should be thankful for all “KD” has done for them. Durant, with the help of his teammates, has made the Thunder's relocation relevant. NBA franchises do not often relocate and when they have recently, it does not usually go well.
Durant has given the OKC eight great years of his career. Under Durant's leadership, the Thunder finished runner-up in the 2012 NBA Finals and the team saw its best regular season record with a first place finish in the Western Conference the following year. The last couple of teams to permanently change cities did not enjoy similar success. The New Orleans Pelicans (formerly the Hornets) and Memphis Grizzlies have combined to win the Western Conference zero times, regular or postseason.
Before burning Durant’s jersey, maybe fans should be thankful for all Durant achieved while he was there. That Western Conference championship banner will continue to hang and that assuredly would not have happened without him.
Even more than that, there is the (unlikely) possibility of him returning. How hypocritical do Cleveland Cavalier and Texas Ranger fans, who burned the jerseys of LeBron James and Josh Hamilton, feel when they are cheering for the very players they had previously denounced? While its probability is anywhere between minuscule and non-existent, what if Durant does not fit with the Warriors?
He is only signed to a two-year deal, with an opt out after this season. He may have a change of heart. Technically, he is not even officially signed to that contract until July 7. There is also the slim chance he returns to Oklahoma City down the road as a complimentary piece to their roster, which is not inconceivable if they are a contender.
While it is hard to tell anyone to cope with the loss of a player that brought their team all the success it knows, I think we can all agree that burning jerseys does little good, emotional recovery included.