The lack of loyalty in the NBA in both players and teams was clearly shown Monday when former MVP Kevin Durant turned his back on the Oklahoma City Thunder and announced he would sign with Golden State.
Even though the Thunder had a 3-1 playoff lead over the Warriors (the Warriors came back and won 4-3), Durant apparently feels that Golden State has a better chance for an NBA title that has evaded him in eight years in Oklahoma City.
Durant can’t actually sign until July 7. Under NBA rules, no other team could pay Durant more money under a new contract.
“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life,” Durant said in a statement. “I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices. What I didn’t truly understand, however, was the range of emotions I would feel during this process.
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.
“I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
“I will miss Oklahoma City, and the role I have had in building this remarkable team. I will forever cherish the relationships within the organization — the friends and teammates that I went to war with on the court for nine years, and all the fans and people of the community. They have always had my back unconditionally, and I cannot be more grateful for what they have meant to my family and to me.”
The Thunder front office took the news gracefully.
“Kevin’s contributions to our organization during his nine years were profound, on and off the court,” said Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett. ?He helped the Thunder grow and succeed in immeasurable ways and impacted the community just the same. We thank him for his leadership, his play, and how he represented Oklahoma City and the entire state of Oklahoma.”
“Kevin made an indelible mark on the Thunder organization and the state of Oklahoma as a founding father of this franchise,” said Thunder General Manager Sam Presti. “We can’t adequately articulate what he meant to the foundation of this franchise and our success. While clearly disappointing that he has chosen to move on, the core values that he helped establish only lead to us thanking him for the many tangible and intangible ways that he helped our program.”
The departure of Durant leaves the Thunder with one all-star, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is scheduled to become a free agent after next season.