As the months went by in the recently concluded 2018-19 NBA season, the chances of Kevin Durant leaving the Golden State Warriors for another team seemed to grow with each passing week. And, just as expected, he chose to leave the Warriors after winning two NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards in his three years with the team, officially joining the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent earlier this month.
On Monday’s edition of The Jump, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst commented on the factors that might have led to Durant’s move to Brooklyn. Windhorst speculated on whether things would have changed if Golden State had won a third straight title in this year’s Finals, as well as the impact of the 30-year-old forward’s Achilles tendon injury during the Warriors’ series against the eventual champion Toronto Raptors had on his decision. As quoted by NBC Sports Bay Area, Windhorst said he believes Durant wasn’t as happy last year as most NBA players would have been after winning two straight championships.
“I think even if he doesn’t get hurt, even if they win the title,” Windhorst said.
“I think there’s a good chance he was leaving. You never know for sure. The thing about the Warriors, they were very alarmed after winning two titles that Durant didn’t seem to have the joy.”
Adding more context to Windhorst’s remarks about Durant’s apparent lack of “joy,” NBC Sports Bay Area quoted the 10-time All-Star himself, pointing out that he might have been feeling the same way as far back as the summer of 2017, after he won his first championship as a Warrior. In a March, 2018 appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Durant told the show’s eponymous host that NBA superstars are perceived as being “immortal,” but in reality they’re just regular people. Durant also stressed that he realized he is “not king anything [just] because we won a championship.”
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NBC Spots Bay Area also cited ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who wrote in June, 2018 — shortly after the Warriors’ second title win — that Durant started “drifting” away from the Warriors after the 2017 Finals, as observed by head coach, Steve Kerr, and player development consultant Steve Nash.
“He didn’t have a great summer,” Nash was quoted as saying. “He was searching for what it all meant. He thought a championship would change everything, and found out it doesn’t. He was not fulfilled. He didn’t work out as much as he normally does.”
Regardless of when Durant might have realized that continuing to play for the Warriors wouldn’t give him fulfillment, it might be a while before Brooklyn Nets fans get to see him make his debut for the team. While CBS Sports noted there’s a good chance Durant might miss the entire 2019-20 NBA campaign while recovering from his injury, the outlet added that the Nets have not yet ruled out the possibility of him returning at some point during the season.