Kevin Durant is out for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
There is a chance he may not play at all in the Finals due to a calf strain suffered in the Western Conference semifinals against Houston.
Regardless of whether or not he plays in this series, his legacy will not, nor should it take a hit.
Since joining the Warriors in the summer of 2016, he has received a ton of flak for his decision. Durant left Oklahoma City to join Golden State after the Warriors eliminated the Thunder in the playoffs. That same season, the Warriors set the regular season record by winning 73-games.
Golden State would eventually lose in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite being up 3-1. After the game, Draymond Green called Durant to try and recruit him to come join the team that had just ended his season.
Durant decided to do just that.
Then Durant was called every name in the book from traitor to ****h. He didn’t care, nor should he have. He went on to win back-to-back NBA titles and Finals MVPs.
“But he had to join a 73-win team to win the championship!” Irrelevant.
The main objective of every single player should be to win championships. Point blank period. Durant put himself in a position to do just that. Not only did he do that, but he also put himself and his family in a better position in life. Whenever a player feels he is doing what is best for him and his family, nothing else should matter to those outside his inner circle. Add the fact that it is hard to win a championship, as only one team can win per year, so joining other stars to win shouldn’t be looked down upon.
Golden State, led by the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, along with Green have gotten it done without Durant. In fact, in games that KD misses and Curry plays, the team is 31-1. Don’t let that interfere with the fact that the Warriors aren’t as good without Durant.
People make it seem like Durant joining this star-studded roster (built through the draft, mind you), makes him less of a basketball player. That’s simply not true. When Durant is on the court, Golden State can “relax” on the offensive end as they can throw KD the ball and watch him score in droves. Curry and Thompson don’t get as many shot attempts due to Durant needing the basketball. When Durant is out, the sharp-shooting duo, plus Green are able to be more assertive and aggressive to make up for the lack of production from Durant.
Everyone on the Warriors team will say they aren’t as good without Durant, but a lot of people don’t buy that as they won 73-games without him a year prior to him coming over.
If Durant does not play in these finals due to his calf strain, many will say he has to leave the Warriors and go attempt to be the main man on a championship-winning team. That’s rubbish. Durant can elect to stay with the Warriors and continue dominating the league. However, it is likely Durant will take his talents elsewhere, which is his decision and his decision alone.
If Durant is able to come back and play in this series, it will be a huge boost to the Warriors, despite how they have played since Durant got hurt. Not only that, he will have a chance to contribute on the biggest stage to the three-peat the Warriors are seeking. Also, if he is able to come back in Game 3, back home at Oracle Arena, and if this series can go six or seven games, he will have another chance at winnings Finals MVP for the third-straight year, which will only further enhance his resume.
Whether the Warriors win the championship with or without Durant it will not affect his legacy. He put himself in the best position to win a title, and he’s won two with a chance to win a third. Once this series ends one way or another, Durant will have a big decision to make, but again, that is his decision to make.