Today is the day. This day will go down as either the best one in Oklahoma City Thunder history or it will be a down full of dread and sorrow. It will all lay on the decision of Kevin Durant. Durant, a 27 year old who has so much basketball left to play, will determine if one franchise, one city, gets a burst of life and lives on or if their hopes are dashed. Durant will be deciding if he wants to return to his long time team, the Thunder. A team that has grown because of his hard work.
Durant has made his rounds in this free agency period. He has visited with the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, Heat, and the Thunder twice. The Thunder were privileged enough to get the first and last meeting, one in OKC and one in the Hamptons. Word around the league is saying that the choice of team comes down to only two, the Thunder and the Warriors. How perfect is it that these two franchise are facing head-to-head this offseason after having one of the best Western Conference Finals seen in a long time. If Durant picks the Warriors then he will have an easier path to the winning the title that he desires. If he picks the Thunder then he will have to go through those Warriors for many years to come. It all depends on what Durant wants, the easier path or the path of loyalty to a city that has given him their all.
No matter what happens the Warriors are sure to be good for years to come, but if Durant decides to leave the Thunder then everything will change the team. They will go from having two of the best superstars in the league to only having one, and having no motivation for that one to stay. They will change from a championship contender to a team who needs somehow needs to rebuild. There are fans around the country who are even saying that if Durant leaves then it is time to trade Russell Westbrook. Why keep a player around if you have no confidence in him staying? It will become a time to recoup the losses.
It would be a surprise to see Thunder fans burning Kevin Durant jerseys if he leaves like Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans did after Lebron James left. The Thunder fans are not filled with hatred, they are only filled with the love. That is a love that they have given Kevin Durant for years. Look at what not only the city has done to support Durant but also what the state has done. Durant was named to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame last year and is set to be there with Russell Westbrook when Westbrook is being inducted this year. Residents of Oklahoma are no longer afraid of losing a great basketball player in Kevin Durant. Instead they are afraid of losing a great, modest, and amazing man in Kevin Durant.
How could Durant throw all that away just so he could go win games in Oakland, California. Durant would be betraying all the loyalty that he is believe to have in his career. Last year Kevin Durant said, “I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don’t really think about anywhere else.” It seems hard to believe that Durant could flip on that so easily. Durant went on to say that he would love to have his jersey retired in Oklahoma City, it is almost impossible to see that happening if he leaves to go to play for a rival.
Kevin Durant recently spoke with Warriors executive board member, Jerry West. West is, of course, the man who the current NBA logo is based off. Reports are saying that when West was speaking to Durant he told him how much it killed him that he lost eight Finals and only won once, why would Durant ever want to feel that disappointment? At the same time, Durant has to look at West’s legacy, and what it is all about. Again, West is THE logo of the NBA, apparently losing did not hurt him that much. Hard to see West ever leaving the Lakers back in those days to go to the Celtics either. Yet that is exactly what West wants Durant to do, the opposite of him. He wants Durant to burn down all ties to an entire state just so he can win.
Durant has a tough decision on his hands, one that only he can make, but it is a good problem to be facing. Durant has the chance to be a long time winner or to be a long time hero to those around the Oklahoma area. It is not like Durant cannot win with the Thunder, the team still has 10x more than enough left in the tank. But if Durant leaves… Then what do the Thunder really have and what have they really built up for?