Much of the season before he became a free agent, the buzz around the league was Kevin Durant was headed to Madison Square Garden to be the savior of the Knicks. Even after Durant and Kyrie Irving chose Brooklyn, the rumors about how close the former MVP was to going to the Knicks would not stop.
No, I never planned on it — going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there… I think the media just hyped it up and wanted to create drama around our team so much and around me that they made up this Knicks thing.
So around February, as I was thinking, I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York. I didn’t care about being the King of New York, that never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway or that sh*t, I just wanted to go ball, go to the crib, and chill. So I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied, and I wanted to live in New York. So I felt like Brooklyn was what I’m all about: chill, on the low, all black everything. We quiet, just focused on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square Mecca, all of that s***. We just gonna hoop and build something new in Brooklyn. I felt that way in February, leading up to March and then once free agency hit it was time.
There was a lot of smoke around Durant to the New York Knicks, now a year after the fact he is saying there was no fire. KD is putting the best possible spin on his decision (as he should). If you want to take that with a grain of salt, it’s understandable.
However, it’s clear that to Durant, building what he wanted within the Nets culture was more appealing than the challenges that came with Madison Square Garden. The mystique of that building is something Knicks fans and the media love to talk about, but for younger players that doesn’t always ring true. It didn’t for Durant.
Durant found what he wanted, to be the face of a franchise and have the chance to lead that team to a title. A team that has the pieces to be contenders with him and Irving (providing everyone stays healthy).
It’s going to be another player that restores the luster to the Garden, but first the Knicks need to build a foundation — no more skipping steps. Put together a culture and a solid roster that can attract a superstar. (If not attract, NY would have the pieces to trade for one, not unlike what the Lakers did to get Anthony Davis.) It’s a process that will take years, patience, and smart basketball decisions by the front office.
Just like that team over the Brooklyn Bridge did.