When Lebron James left Cleveland in 2010 it sent a ripple throughout the NBA world. Even less-than-casual fans found themselves enraged without any justifiable reason. Lebron was Cleveland and Ohio’s own. How could the self-proclaimed “Chosen One” leave? He left because throughout his first stint with the Cavaliers his best teammate was arguably Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Remember him? Can you remember any other players on that 2007 finals team without looking up their roster? If you guessed Mo Williams he would not arrive until after and just a friendly reminder, his only All-Star appearance was as a replacement for Chris Bosh, the second player out of the All-Star game that year due to injury. James received additional heat because of the The Decision however people seem to forget that James’ camp agreed to the deal with ESPN in order to raise money for Boys and Girls clubs (it raised millions). All of Lebron’s teams had absolutely no business being as good as they were but somehow he carried them, whether it be to the Finals or 66 wins (GSW had 67 this year).
Kevin Durant had numerous chances to become a champion while with the Thunder. There were seasons derailed due to injuries, and the Thunder did decide to trade Harden (shout out to Daryl Morey), but Kevin Durant had several chances to win it all, he just couldn’t. Kevin Durant at one point had James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka on the same team. After that he still had very good supporting casts that would include Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Martin, Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, Caron Butler, and other very good role players. For goodness sake he had a 3-1 lead on the greatest regular season team of all-time! He and the Thunder choked the lead and then he decided to join the Warriors instead of beating them.
I support players being able to choose where they want to go and I’m all for players sticking it to the man and deciding what’s best for them and not feeling burdened about leaving a team that happened to draft them. I have absolutely no problem with Kevin Durant deciding to leave Oklahoma City, if he didn’t like the city or just wanted a fresh start on a new team, all power to him. I do have a problem with talking to Warriors players during the season about joining them, knowing that they’re your biggest obstacle to the finals. I do have a problem with joining a team you could’ve and should’ve beat instead of doing what you can to beat them next time. Lebron didn’t leave the Cavs and join the Celtics, he teamed up with 2 others stars on an average team in order to beat them and left a situation that provided no realistic opportunity to win.
The problem is not that Durant left, the problem is where he went. If instead Kevin Durant opted to join the Celtics or Spurs I would still absolutely hate those teams but there would be nothing bad I could say about the decision. In fact I would defend his decision despite the fact I’m not a fan of him or those teams.
But he didn’t do that.
So please, stop comparing Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to Lebron James going to the Heat.
Lebron didn’t have 2 future MVP candidates and continual All-Stars on his team. He didn’t have teammates capable of averaging a triple-double, or maybe even getting one at that. He didn’t join the best team in the NBA. He didn’t talk to his rivals about joining them during the season. He didn’t join the team that beat him.
Kevin Durant did.