Kevin Durant to Warriors is a strong move by a strong man despite Stephen A. Smith

Kevin Durant and Steph Curry as teammates raises expectations to a championship and 75 regular season wins. Inviting that into your life is anything but weak.

Kevin Durant and Steph Curry as teammates raises expectations to a championship and 75 regular season wins. Inviting that into your life is anything but weak.

Kevin Durant announced today on the Players Tribune that he is joining the Golden State Warriors to form what many will say is the greatest accumulation of talent in NBA history.

That’s debatable.

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What is beyond argument is that Durant has made a decision that is best for him.  That’s because we can’t swim around in his head to learn which boxes needed to be checked in order to make it.

It’s simple and hyperbolic for ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (imagine that – ‘simple’ and ‘Stephen A. Smith’ in the same sentence!) to yell about Durant making “the weakest move I’ve ever seen” to join the team that beat him a month ago in the Western Conference Finals after Oklahoma City led the series 3-1.

Carping about Durant jumping ship for a chance to win because he felt the Thunder couldn’t do it is itself weak and silly.  As much as Smith believes he invented the concept of insight, we in the media operate in a veritable vacuum of information.  Stephen guesses with passion.  That’s his job.

Let’s look at this from another perspective.  Durant has not only carried a team for eight years – with a nod to Russell Westbrook – but a city as well.  A desire for a new challenge, one where he is not the absolute nexus of team success and civic pride is not evidence of weakness.

Durant understands his decision will have a horrible effect on his adopted hometown, and his status as a statue guy for the Thunder has been abdicated.  That’s not an easy choice.

Hopping a plane for the unfamiliar is never easy because it can provide a rocky landing.  The expectations for Warrior will leap toward the ridiculous.  They won 73 games last season, so Durant on the floor in place of Harrison Barnes should allow them the win, what, 75-77 games?

And if they don’t, what then?

Durant could have remained a hero and hall of famer forever in Oklahoma City, He could have worked tirelessly, continued to average in the upper 20s, and been seen as one of the best five players of his generation.

Instead, he is pushing his chips into the middle of the table.  If the Warriors win 66 games and lose in the NBA Finals or any step of the playoffs prior, Durant will be seen as a loser.  Putting yourself in the jackpot scenario is not a weak move.

Durant has much more to lose than gain by signing with the Warriors because now he becomes a “supposed to win” player instead of a “wouldn’t it be nice if he won” player.

This decision was about a man deciding where he wants to live and work.  As a public figure, he can be criticized and mocked, but it isn’t a just or reasonable response.

The tough part of saying yes to a suitor is the de facto negative response to all the others.  It would have been a lovely moment for Durant and the people of Oklahoma City if he had decided to agree to return.  And how much fun would it have been to be the next big thing in Boston?  Playing with the Clippers in Los Angeles would have opened next chapter doors for Durant.  Saying no to all those options required a man much tougher than Smith gives him credit for being.

And congratulations to Durant for doing it quietly without and pomp, circumstance, or Jim Gray.

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Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-6p, and writes about Indiana sports at

4 thoughts on “Kevin Durant to Warriors is a strong move by a strong man despite Stephen A. Smith

  1. Jeff Gregory

    I really don’t have a dog in the fight. I like Golden State. Curry is fun to watch. Durant is a great player that should cement the Warriors as champions for years to come. What I don’t like is the principle behind it. I am old school. I like making the team I have great – and if that takes putting pressure on the front office, so be it. But to fly the coop for greener pastures just doesn’t have much honor in it. I didn’t like it when LeBron James decided to “take his talents to South Beach,” either. It reminds me of a kid getting a challenging new video game. He spends some time with it and comes up short so he gets online to find the game cheats. Sure he gets to win, but at what cost? Arguably, these guys will never regret it. They will get their rings and trophies to keep for posterity, all the while being sure that it was the right move because of the reward. And I think that is the saddest part of the story. Good luck to Durant and Oklahoma City.

  2. Joel

    “This decision was about a man deciding where he wants to live and work.”
    No ,its about him ,and many others,who jump ship and try to get on with the best team
    possible to chase a ring….riding the coattails or stepping into an existing winner…
    ….ready made champions,presumably.
    Thats the easy way. God forbid if you have work hard and take a few years to try and earn it.
    Granted KD tried, OKC had the talent to do so, it just did not happen this time around.
    You cant win one every year.
    But I don think thats the mentallity of the NBA player…..entitlements.
    So if you dont win a championship, I guess you can quit on your team and go find a supposed
    instant one.Once again , thats easy.

    How much pride would you have if you are minimal bench player later in his carrer,
    who signs with a team just to get a ring? Do you feel deserving? Of course thats not
    Durant, he is just looking for a franchise thats”ready made”. Thats easy.

    I am not just pointing my finger at KD,
    like I said , its also to the many other you pull this. How did that work out for David West?

    Where is the integrity,motivation, commitment,loyality of players who want to stay together to build a team
    and make a winner out of them? Start something special. Do you think Durant would have bailed if they would have beaten GS and made it to the finals? If so,would he have went to the Warriors.

    Does GS need KD to win..nope. But I guess since he wants a ring on his finger, thats his best choice.
    You will have 4 guys in that team now that you can go through. Someone’s gonna get left out and get butt hurt . Here come the egos!!!

    Pretty soon they will be signing 1 yr contracts , if they dont win, on to the next large sexy markt team to chase ring with the “big 3″.

    To quote Kent Sterling:
    ” The answer to adversity is hard work.”

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Yeah, but I know dozens of guys who have left their employer for ta $10K raise. Is it better to leave for cash or the chance to win?

      1. Jeff Gregory

        Professional sports have a different set of factors regarding to job relocation. If the working stiff down the road leaves his factory job for a higher paying gig, more power to him. There aren’t millions of fans tuning in, buying gear, and living and dying with his factory production. With each occupation, comes a different and unique set of responsibilities. Some decisions only affect a few people. Others affect millions. An athlete shouldn’t ignore the millions of fans just because he wants a ring.


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