Wanda Durant isn’t going away anytime soon. She and her equally famous son, Kevin, should be making a few more appearances on the trophy presentation stage in the coming years.
The search for rings, which began with LeBron James teaming with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, is on. It could lead to free agent point guard Chris Paul signing with San Antonio next month and/or free agent small forward Gordon Hayward reuniting with his college coach, Brad Stevens, in Boston.
Durant took his cue from LeBron, took a short term public relations hit and was rewarded with a championship and an MVP trophy.
The Golden State Warriors won a title without Durant two years ago and should have been working on a three-peat if not for Draymond Green allowing James to sucker him into being suspended for Game 5 last season.
One season later, the Cleveland Cavaliers could not overcome the presence of both Green and especially Durant in Game 5. Golden State’s dominance this postseason should not be ignored: They played 17 playoff games, winning 16.
Durant was magnificent, averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the series, including 39 points in the close out game on Monday. LeBron averaged a triple-double in the Finals, yet Cleveland took just one game because the Warriors, with Durant leading the charge, were simply that much better.
It ended the way many believed it would when Durant signed a free agent contract with the Warriors last summer. Golden State was the odds-on favorite to win the title and proved the oddsmakers right. Durant entered the year with the most pressure on him; anything less than a championship would be viewed, fairly or unfairly, as a failure. He left a contending team in Oklahoma City to join a team that won a record 73 regular-season games last year.
No journey to a championship is easy. Durant had to be great to beat LeBron and the Cavs. But this notion that Durant didn’t take a short cut is preposterous. Free agency gave Durant the absolute right to pick his place of employment and he chose wisely.
He had no connection to the Bay Area. Durant is from Maryland, attended college at Texas, played in Seattle and Oklahoma City and owns a home in Los Angeles. His interest in Golden State was obvious: a great team that he could transform into a super team while removing his name from the list of “greatest players to never win an NBA championship.”
If we’re going to judge a player on rings, this is what you get. Maybe if Patrick Ewing had a chance to do it all over again he would have taken less to join Michael Jordan in Chicago. (Personally, I don’t think Patrick was ever going to take less money and there is something to be said for trying to beat the best team as opposed to joining it.)
But here’s the thing: Years from now, the messy details of how Durant landed in Oakland will be forgotten. Only the number of championships will be remembered.
And if Durant ends up with three or four, his place as an immortal is secure.
“You got to call Kevin Durant a champ now,” Stephen Curry said on Monday.
“He’s put the time in, and I’m just so happy for him to be able to realize his goal and be my teammate.”
That’s great for Durant and the Warriors, who are a dynasty in the making.
LeBron started the trend and ultimately was beaten by the monster he created. The best player was no match for the super team.