The signing of Kevin Durant was one of the biggest moments in NBA history but it didn’t exactly make the Golden State Warriors feel validated.
Kevin Durant‘s decision to join the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016 will be talked about for decades. A superstar player, right in the middle of his prime, teaming up with three other star players who were fresh off a record-breaking season and fell one play short of back-to-back titles is something we’ve just never seen before.
Fans were outraged as soon as the signing occurred. Durant was ridiculed. The criticism was heavy as KD’s signing was dubbed “the weakest move by a superstar of all-time.” by Stephen A Smith.
The Warriors, on the other hand, couldn’t complain. That is until they realized that winning the championship with a stacked deck doesn’t exactly feel the same as fighting your way to the top. As GM Bob Myers said to ESPN writer Nick Friedell:
"The second time with Kevin [in 2018] it felt like, ‘Well, we just did what we were supposed to do, and great job, but it wasn’t joy.”"
In comparison to their first title in 2015, the one in which a young unproven roster battled their way through the Western Conference and toppled LeBron James in the NBA Finals, their 2018 championship feels underwhelming.
Although, it wasn’t like the Dubs didn’t face any controversy in 2018. Don’t be quick to forget that they trailed the Houston Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals and if it hadn’t been for 27 consecutive missed 3-pointers in Game 7 the Dubs may have lost the series.
However, this brings us back to the main point of it all. The Warriors were supposed to win. They had just gone 16-1 in the season prior and now it was expected of them to do it all over again. A championship wouldn’t be spectacular but losing would be downright embarrassing.
This was the problem that Durant and the Dubs faced during their time together. They weren’t playing to win. Rather, they were playing not to lose.