Kevin Durant certainly seemed unhappy by the end of his tenure with the Warriors.
Joining the Warriors after losing to them in the 2016 playoffs torpedoed his reputation. He has spent the years since futilely trying to convince people he didn’t take the easy route to a championship.
Both Draymond Green and Steve Kerr have said Durant didn’t get the credit he felt he deserved for besting LeBron James in the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant reportedly felt disrespected with Golden State. As he put it, he never fit in like other Warriors. He reportedly felt overshadowed by Stephen Curry.
Green infamously blew up at him during a game (roughly): You’re a b****, and you know you’re a b****. We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave. Upset with how the team handled the incident, Durant isolated himself, including from teammates. When he did speak publicly, he sounded snippy. Even he admitted he decided midway through his third season in Golden State to leave afterward.
In the 2019 NBA Finals, Durant returned from injury only to get hurt again amid questions of whether the team rushed him back.
For Durant to have so much success with the Warriors and leave after just three seasons anyway suggested there were deeper problems. It’s worth wondering whether he regrets going to Golden State in the first place.
Durant in his interview with Green for Bleacher Report:
I felt like I was the absolute perfect fit with what you guys were doing on both ends of the ball. And I knew my game had reached a point where I needed to really see what that looked like. And I thought that was just a no-brainer. I would do that s*** a million times. And, again, I didn’t second-guess at all.
I don’t have any regrets at all. I feel like we did exactly what we were supposed to do. And I wish we would have three-peated, because that’s rare, and we were like right there. But I don’t have any regrets at all, because I feel like if we can stay healthy with the Nets, we had a great chance to finish it, too.
I look at that time with the Warriors is so special to me. But it was time to move on.
It’s interesting to hear Durant look back so fondly on his time with the Warriors. He definitely got his desired system change and deep playoff runs in Golden State. The Warriors’ dominance also allowed him to spread his wings even further as a basketball player, something he enjoys.
But I still wonder: When did Durant first decide his stint in Golden State could be short? Did he originally sign in 2016 expecting not to finish his career there? Or did something change?
Durant’s decisions to join and leave the the Warriors significantly shifted the NBA landscape. Years later, there’s still more to understand about them.