WESTCHESTER, NY – I come from a pretty competitive bloodline. When we East Coast Whitneys visit our West Coast relatives out in West Marin, California, it’s a constant East vs. West competition of basketball, ping pong, football, cards, darts, pool, charades, tennis, and anything else (or it was when we were younger at least). One year I woke up to catch an early flight out of town. An uncle showed up at 6 am that morning just to get in one more game of ping pong game with me or one of my brothers before we left. Basketballs have been kicked off the cliff into the Tomales Bay, ping pong rackets have been smashed, tears have been shed and family relationships have been tested. I think this competitive nature is the reason why I was disappointed when I heard about Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the 73-win All Star team in Golden State. See… Kevin Durant is a b!tch.
Speaking of b!tches, Matt Harvey has symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome and will likely have season-ending, career-threatening surgery. But that’s another story. Back to Durant.
All week I’ve listened to talk show hosts (and my fellow MTM Staff) defend his decision – “Wouldn’t you rather live in San Francisco over Oklahoma City?” “It’s about championships.” “He can do whatever he wants.” None of those are good enough for me.
The Thunder won 55 games this season, despite having lost 14 games when they were leading to start the fourth quarter. This was team that was an adjustment or two away from being a real powerhouse. Durant and Russell Westbrook, plus the depth and agility of the Thunder front court, gave the 73-win Warriors fits in the Western Conference Finals. OKC was game away from a matchup with Lebron. A gritty Warrior team found a way to dig out of the 3-1 hole, but it took unreal shooting from Klay Thompson in Game 6 to snatch away the Thunder’s first ever trip to the finals. Thompson scored 41 points and hit a playoff record 11 threes, many of which were quick release bombs where barely seemed to have time to even look at the basket. It was an unreal performance.
My point? The Thunder were close. If you’re a competitor, wouldn’t you want another chance? Wouldn’t every bone in your body be screaming for vengeance throughout the off season? Can you picture some of the game’s true competitors pulling this move? How about Michael Jordan, who supposedly punched teammate and Warriors coach Steve Kerr in the face once during a scrimmage?
All this superteam stuff has to hurt the NBA at some point, right? Never has the outcome of a season seemed so predetermined, barring injury. The Warriors might be favored in every single one of their 82 games next year. How many teams can legitimately challenge them for the title, two? Lame.
I know I don’t have all the facts. Maybe the reason they lost so many games in the fourth quarter is that Russell Westbrook won’t pass the ball. Maybe KD knows that ain’t changing and wanted out. But it sure looks like a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” cop out. Everyone thought he would sign a one year deal to stay with the Thunder and then take the big money next year. Why not? I know I would want at least one more chance.
Those are my thoughts, please hoist up yours in below and come back tomorrow for my pal Matt McCarthy, a man who runs around like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. And please follow us on Twitter – @BenWhit8 & @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts. Thank you.