Some fans and media members claimed Kevin Durant ruined the NBA when he bolted the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. After all, he was joining a 73-win team, and what other NBA franchise would be able to compete with that many stars in their prime at the same time?
It was as if we were playing Trivial Pursuit with some friends, but instead of one team using their natural intellect to answer the questions asked, they were also allowed to use Google to figure out what should be blurted from the orifice right below the nose.
Following Golden State’s Game 2 loss in the Western Conference Finals to Houston, however, intrigue in the series has already begun to skyrocket. In turn, it begs a rather obvious question to be asked: Did Kevin Durant joining the Warriors to form a super-team really hurt the NBA?
Of course not. Don’t be silly. Even before the Warriors fell — mightily — to the Rockets on Wednesday evening, there was reason to love the league as much as ever before.
The NBA is great at a variety of things, not all squarely resting on what happens on the hardwood. No other sports league in the world — save for professional wrestling — does petty beefs better. From passive-aggressive messages on Twitter to flatly calling opposing players out after games, the NBA is basically a real-world version of The Miz cutting shoot-promos on John Cena, but it lasts in perpetuity and has actual stakes attached.
Let us not forget the entire LeBron James situation and how we all operate within that from narrative-based standpoint. His will he/won’t he stay in Cleveland and/or hurl teammates under the figurative bus and/or achieve all-time greatness by way of carrying a bunch of glorified jobbers to an NBA crown dilly.
The NBA is a league about competition, yet it’s also about entertainment. Before the season, one could surely argue that it would be less entertaining since many presumed to know the outcome of it prior to any games starting, but Game 2 is yet another example of how assuming can make an… well, you know how that saying goes.
We do this often in sports (and outside of it, to be honest). Fans, media members and general observers make sweeping declarations based off our sometimes educated opinions, leaving no wiggle room for doubt.
Basically, we made the NBA season anticlimactic ourselves. It is us to blame for Kevin Durant killing the league, not the giant unicorn hitting shots without much regard for opposing defenses himself. Had we been more open to the idea that a non-Golden State team could — GASP! — win it all, maybe some would have been slightly more OK with Durant taking the easiest path to multiple rings.
Let’s be Camp Crystal Lake clear: This isn’t to say blogger boy hating Durant should get a pass on going to Golden State if you believe he did something cowardice (he did not, by the way). Nor is it to say people were completely wrong in getting frustrated with the move.
The NBA would be, by leaps and bounds, better had Durant either stayed in OKC or joined a not-already formed super power. Love or hate the super-team model, if Durant went anywhere other than Golden State, it would give at least one extra fan base a reason to smile — a reason to hope.
By going to the Warriors, not only did he knock the Thunder down a peg, but the entire league, as teams had to decide if they were playing for the right now or some time in the distant future, as some have appeared to give up on the idea of winning in the era of the Slim Reaper in Golden State.
We can go on and on about reasons, outside Golden State’s presumed dominance, for how and why the NBA is as great as it has ever been. How, despite many people swearing from the rooftops that it’s ruined, the league is as popular as it has ever been.
None of that really matters now. It might in another game or two, but for what might be a few fleeting moments, a sincere sense of drama has begun to hover over the Western Conference Finals like Freddy Krueger over a teenager taking a nap on Elm Street.
It’s as if we probably should avoid hyperbolic statements that deter us from joy we could have otherwise had in favor of allowing things to play out in front of us. That, possibly and through magic somehow, we resist the urge to rebel against anything that is here to try to purposely give us joy.
Kevin Durant, in a Warriors uniform, has always been that joy. He, with help, gave the NBA its Goliath. A remarkable thing to consider being done on a roster that doesn’t feature arguably the greatest player of all-time in LeBron James.
For those outside of the Bay Area, he’s aided in providing the league with a horror monster villain. A team, down by no matter how many and what regardless of minutes left in the game, that will always have at least one more jump-scare before finally being taken down by the protagonist (or not).
Hell, in the simplest form, Durant and the Warriors have created a wonderful roster constructed in a way that allows fans to view the beauty of the sport through the lens of efficiency and near perfection. The natural rebuttal to such a statement is preferring drama over perfection, which is understandable, but we’re currently witnessing a series tied at one — we only assumed the Western Conference Finals was over before it started based on our own preconceived notions of what it would look like.
Did Kevin Durant kill the NBA by joining the Warriors. Sure, I guess… but it is only in the same way Michael Meyers has been getting himself killed in the Halloween franchise for decades.
Guess that makes the NBA plentiful of potential Jamie Lee Curtis types.