Everyone sensed it. Kevin Durant finally admitted it.
If Draymond Green had been able to keep his hands to himself and not gotten suspended. If LeBron James hadn’t stepped up and had three of the best Finals game performances ever. If Andrew Bogut had been healthy. If Stephen Curry could have better defended all those pick-and-rolls he was dragged into. If Kyrie Irving had missed.
If the Golden State Warriors had closed out their 3-1 NBA Finals lead, Durant would not be in the Bay Area.
Durant had wanted (Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals) so bad, he did something he never did: let himself savor winning before it happened: “Man, I saw us in the ball caps and T-shirts, with our fans going crazy and dancing. That town was so good to us, showed us love even when we lost. I wanted it more for them than even me.” He went home crushed, replaying his every miss – and there’d been plenty. He acquitted himself better in Game Seven, but Westbrook was strictly on fumes then. Some part of Durant knew he’d already punched his ticket. “It felt like that whole thing was set up for me to leave,” he says, “especially after they blew a lead in the finals, because I damn sure wasn’t going there if they’d won. But after Game Seven, I called up my agent and said, ‘Damn, dude, Golden State – what if?’ “
The Warriors were prepared for that “what if?” Like Pat Riley bringing LeBron and Chris Bosh to Miami, it took a lot of foresight and planning, then a lot of luck when it was time for things to fall into place. The Warriors had laid the groundwork, but it was still going to take some breaks along the way to make it happen.
Breaks such as the Warriors stumbling and the Cavaliers taking full advantage with three brilliant Finals games.
That was the big step on Durant’s path to the Bay Area. Like we all knew, if they win that Finals the NBA has a very different landscape right now. KD just finally confirmed it.
As a side note, it’s worth reading the entire Rolling Stone article to get Durant’s perspective of the sacrifices he made, both as a player and a person, that led him to his decision this summer, and other decisions in his life. This is a thoughtful man.