Latest posts by Shea Norling (see all)
- Norling: Kyrie proving to be a cut above for Celtics - November 17, 2018
- Norling: Warrior mentality? It doesn’t include Durant - November 14, 2018
A quick aside, before directly addressing Kevin Durant. Star Wars is, undeniably, the largest film franchise in film history. It is the highest grossing film franchise of all-time, and has many of the most beloved characters in the history of pop culture. It’s a phenomenon, and it would not be unfair to call it a “dynasty” in film, if such a thing existed.
In 1977, the original Star Wars was released. It was created by a little known filmmaker who would become a household name in George Lucas. It’s been 41 years since then, and the franchise has withstood the test of time. Despite a lackluster series of prequels, the “dynasty” as it were keeps chugging along. Lucas was pushed around by corporate and eventually new owners Disney discarded Lucas’s ideas in favor of J.J. Abrams.
While the Star Wars dynasty continues to chug along at an all-time pace, it would be nowhere without Lucas. Fans understand that, just ask the contingent so fiercely loyal to the Original Trilogy that they panned the latest iterations in the Star Wars universe as a retrograde remake and blasphemy. Without Lucas, the dynasty doesn’t exist.
Enter the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, or “Dubs” which works operationally both as a reference to the first letter and the column in which most of their games end up, are the greatest team in the history of basketball. No, they don’t have the Bulls’ six titles, or the Spurs’ five, but they are better than those teams. The Warriors dynasty, emboldened by back-to-back titles following a historic collapse in the 2016 Finals, was also emboldened by the arrival of Durant two summers ago; but it started in 2014 with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
Green has been the unsung hero of the Warriors. He has been decorated, sure, as a three-time All-Star, he has earned two-time All-NBA team selection, an Olympic gold, and three NBA championships. Green has been named Defensive Player of the Year, and has been selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive first-team three times. Green has also displayed arguably the most foresight of any NBA player, by choosing to take a pay cut in 2015 so the Warriors could go after Durant.
Green told ESPN last summer: “I took less so we could go after KD.” Green, with his contract that he battled against his agent to sign, created the Warriors dynasty. He is their founder, and he is the reason Durant exists in a Golden State uniform.
Now, he is the reason Durant will likely don a new uniform this next summer. After Green failed to pass the ball to Durant in the waning seconds of Monday night’s matchup against the Clippers, he and Durant got into a heated exchange on the bench. It resulted in Durant displaying a classic “I’ve had enough of this guy” head nod and chuckle, while Green reportedly called Durant a “bitch” repeatedly.
In a report by Marcus Thompson of the Athletic, an anonymous Warriors’ player was quoted as saying: “With what was said, there is already no way Durant is coming back.”
Colin Cowherd stated on his daily radio show, simulcast on Fox Sports One, that he had been texting with an NBA player who told him: “Kevin Durant holds grudges.”
And yet, Warriors fans are not stepping to bat for Durant. Fans, and, according to Thompson’s report, evenCurry, remain in Green’s corner. It’s a moment that more clearly than ever displays what has always been true of the Durant era in Golden State: Durant is an outsider.
Green recruited Durant from the outside. The story is well known: Green sat in the parking lot of Oracle Arena following the 2016 Finals loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and texted Durant to come to Golden State and build a dynasty. Green went to bat for Durant, got him a seat at the table, and the dynasty was indeed constructed in the Bay Area. Now, after the spat following the Clippers game, Green was suspended without pay by the team in favor of Durant.
Durant’s personality is rooted in insecurity. Since joining the Warriors, he has felt an unprecedented need to validate himself, particularly on Twitter. Durant’s move to join the Warriors saw him widely regarded by social media as a “snake,” and forced Durant into an insecurity so deeply rooted that not even consecutive Finals MVP awards were enough to keep him from arguing with teenagers on the internet.
Durant has never been a perfect fit for the Warriors. Fans have never showered him with the love they’ve shown to Curry, Green and Klay Thompson. It has consistently bothered Durant that he hasn’t been the benefactor of praise and adoration that has been heaped upon LeBron James and Curry. In fact, there are those (myself included) who intensely believe that Green has been the most important player to Golden State’s dynastic run.
Whether he knows it or not, Durant is J.J. Abrams. The Warriors are undoubtedly better with Durant than they were with Harrison Barnes, but Durant didn’t build this team, he joined it. Green is George Lucas. Without his contractual wisdom, this team in its current form does not exist today.
It’s easy to argue Green can’t be the most important, because his actions that led to a suspension in the 2016 Finals directly cost his team a championship. Conversely, however, doesn’t Green’s absence directly costing his team a championship make him the most important? Yet, by suspending Green for his comments to Durant, didn’t Golden State effectively choose KD?
If it’s true that Durant is absolutely out of Golden State after the spat with Green, it will bring an end to in which it never felt like Durant was really in with Golden State, anyway. This has always been Curry’s team, from the very beginning, and it was always built by Green. It’s why the fans never embraced Durant the way they embraced everyone else. Despite being very much untrue, the belief that the Warriors didn’t need Durant still exists, and it bothers KD to his core.
The Warriors have always been about team basketball. It has always been about the team before the individual. It’s why Green took a pay cut. The Warriors don’t allow conflict get in the way of the team’s success, until now. Whether or not Green is wrong to address Durant the way he did, there has never been conflict with Curry, or Thompson, or any other Warrior and Green. Only Durant.
Durant has never been a Warrior, not truly. He has never embodied the unwavering cockiness and superiority that Curry and Green have outwardly displayed. In fact, Durant has publicly displayed the exact opposite, particularly on social media.
While this team may still advance to the NBA Finals and claim a third consecutive title, the chink in the armor has been exposed. The Durant era’s cracks have been exposed, and Durant’s time in Golden State is all but over.
His time as a Warrior never even started.