I heard a quote on a basketball page from a fan defending Kevin Durant and his decision to join the Golden State Warriors. It went along the lines of ‘Why do we hate on KD for joining a super team to win a title but when LeBron does it we think it’s completely fine’. Were they living under a rock back in 2010/11/12?! When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami to win his first title in 2012, he was basketball public enemy no.1. The chief villian. But as history shows us the reality is that the hate fades as the wins pile up.
Firstly let’s get out of the way that what Kevin Durant did this past year is not comparable to what LeBron James did when he joined the Heat. Durant joined a record setting 73-9 Golden State, LeBron joined a 45-37 Miami who were bundled out in the first round. Yes, he may have also brought All-Star Chris Bosh along to form a big three but Durant joined 3 other All-Star’s in Oakland who had a near bulletproof game plan in place. Durant left a Oklahoma side that were one win away from the NBA Finals, a side that boasted this year’s likely NBA MVP in Russell Westbrook. LeBron left a Cavaliers side who’s supporting cast were Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Case closed.
However as we mentioned, LeBron at the time copped his fair share of criticism. How could he leave his hometown? He can’t win on his own, he needs other superstars! Did any of the other greats have to do this to win a title? Blah blah blah. It got even worse when the Heat lost to Dallas in 2011. It vindicated the haters, made them happy, but once he got his title in 2012 most of the criticism slowly started to disappear. We started to love LeBron and recently have contemplated putting him alongside Jordan as the GOAT.
Right now, Durant has assumed the mantle as basketball’s no.1 villain. This may last for some time but as time moves on and the wins pile up for Durant, we will begin to forget about the move he made and rather focus on his greatness in championship winning teams. At times Jordan wasn’t liked and seen as someone who couldn’t get over the hump in the playoffs in the late 1980s. 6 titles from 6 Finals berths later and he is universally considered as the best basketball player of all time plus one of the most loved.
Winning changes everything. While it may not seem fair, people will begin to forget that Durant took the easy option to a title in Golden State. Maybe not all basketball fans but certainly the majority. The wins will continue to pile up and the crticism will fade with it. Instead we will focus on how great he is rather than how soft his decision was.
So Paul George, Jimmy Butler and any other NBA star thinking of moving teams in order to win a ring. Go for it! You’ll have to endure some hate at the start but if you can win a championship, all will begin to be forgotten. Of course we want to see these players stay loyal and battle each other for the title but in the NBA today this just isn’t plausible.