In breaking news (that I myself did not break) Kevin Durant has signed with the Golden State Warriors.
1. Haters gonna hate.
The haters have already come out en mass calling Durant a traitor, saying that his exit is worse than The Decision (LeBron James’s announcement that he was leaving Cleveland to go to the Miami Heat). I always find this point of view strange. Try applying the logic to anything else in life and it sounds absurd: You graduate college. You don’t get to choose where you get a job, instead you are “drafted” by Microsoft. You try diligently for nine years to overtake Apple. You fail. Your teammates are great, but an even better team awaits at Facebook that has an even better chance of overtaking Apple as the world’s top technology company. You decide to leave. Who will call you a traitor?
On the other hand there is this:
2. Sports matter.
The thought experiment above is just a reframing of the idea that sports really matter to people. Their brains turn off, tribal affiliation and emotions kick in. I always find it silly when non-sports fans deride enthusiasm toward sport and suggest we devote that energy to “something that matters.” Sports matter. As much as anything in our society sports matter. To millions (billions?) of people around the world a fan’s home team is a part of their identity and rooting for another team is as unimaginable as adopting another family. In a very real sense their home team and their home team’s fans are a part of their family.
3. The best ever.
The Warriors’ starting lineup is now considered the best ever. Last year — without Durant — they won 73 games, the most in NBA history! More than teams that included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, LeBron James. Durant is the second best player of his generation behind LeBron and one of the best players of all time. Steph Curry is the best player of his generation. The Warriors already had arguably the two best 3-point shooters of all time in Curry and Thompson. Now they have three of the top — what? Maybe 10 or 20 — shooters of all time! Draymond Green is one of the best all around players in the league, perhaps of all time by the time he retires (he finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award voting in 2016 and second in triple doubles). Three of the Warriors’ new starting five received regular season MVP votes last year. Between Durant and Curry they’ve won the past three regular season MVPs. Iguodala came in second for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award this year (and won the Finals MVP a year ago). Has any team like that ever been assembled? The Warriors’ 12-man lineup includes many solid roll players so even if you replace Iguodala with Bogut or Livingston you still create the greatest lineup ever (Update: Bogut will likely be traded to clear up cap space for Durant).
4. But remember…
The Championship was handed to the Miami Heat after LeBron, Wade, and Bosh joined forces in 2010. That team went 2-2 in the Finals. An accomplishment to be sure, but it’s not like we could just pencil them in as champions every year. Remember when Howard and Nash joined the Lakers? They became a favorite to get to the finals; they didn’t even make the playoffs. Let’s not speak too soon about the success of these new Warriors.
5. Russell Westbrook must be PISSED.
Steph Curry is one of Westbrook’s most hated foes and now Durant — the man that once called Westbrook a brother — has left to play with that foe. Ouch!