Why Durant’s Decision Could Harm Competitive Nature in NBA

On July 4th, the United States was set abuzz, not only because it was Independence Day, but because Kevin Durant announced would leave his longtime team, the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the NBA record-setting Golden State Warriors.

Now I’m not the biggest NBA basketball fan, but I understand that Durant’s decision could have a big impact on the sport in the future.

A lot of basketball fans and analysts were angry with his decision, avid Thunder fans were furious taking to the streets to burn their “35” jerseys in anger and ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith was about as livid as a person could get. And Warriors fans rejoiced.

No matter how people felt, nearly everyone had something to say about Durant’s news, because it pins the health of competition against the business of the industry.

Much like when Lebron joined the Heat, fans across the nation took to the streets to burn their “35” jerseys in anger of the decision that Durant made.

Here’s what happened:

Durant’s decision drew the attention of the sports world first and foremost because he is among one of the best basketball players in the world. Durant is a former NBA MVP in 2014, a 4 time league scoring champion, 7 time All-Star, and the NBA rookie of the year in 2008.

Despite nearly reaching the NBA finals in the 2015-16 season alongside former teammate Russell Westbrook, Durant felt like he needed to go to the Warriors in order to have a chance at an NBA championship.

His decision also caused the buzz that it did because he opted to join the stacked Golden State Warriors, a team that had already broken the NBA regular season record in 2015, and was just an eyelash away from defeating Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second straight NBA championship.

It is clear to everyone that neither Kevin Durant, nor Steph Curry and the boys really needed one another to have a successful basketball team. Curry, the reigning two time MVP, along with fellow splash brother Klay Thompson, All-Star Draymond Green, veteran Andre Iguodala, and Australian big man Andrew Bogut were already considered an unstoppable squad. Even after Harrison Barnes decided to take his talents to Dallas, the Warriors are a team so stacked that NBA executives dream at night of being able to be at the reigns of this kind of super star squad.

And now one of the biggest stars in the world also joined their team. Unstoppable or maybe just plain overkill?

Many are all but already declaring the 2017 NBA crown to the Golden State Warriors. Many basketball fans are rejoicing, while others are groaning at how the good teams continue to get more and more unstoppable, while the bottom feeders like the 76ers continue to be embarrassing year after year, draft after draft

So lets analyze what kind of impact Durants decision will have on the NBA and the larger sports world in the years to come.

 “The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.” -Kevin Durant

Here’s why it matters:

KD’s choice exposes the underlying side of sports that is beginning to take preference over competition. None of us could blame KD for making the best decision for himself. Wouldn’t we all want to get that promotion, move on to that nicer job, in a bigger office with a handful of co-workers who are just as talented as we are at our job? You can’t blame Durant for making the best decision for himself. If you don’t answer YES, then you’re lying.

Durant’s choice was clearly a business decision. Even though he had already nearly won at least one NBA title, Durant will have a much better chance at winning his own share of rings. But what about the competitive level of the sport? What kind of precedent will this set for the league?

 

Kevin Durant, Farouq Aminu
On July 4th, 2016 Kevin Durant announced that he would be leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Durant signed a two-year, $54.3 million contract with the team that includes a player option at the end of next season.                    (2014 AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

Since the next season has not yet started, its hard to know what next years competitive level might be. This past season, the Warriors already dominated much of the league, the bottom feeders, mediocre teams, and even other teams that were considered among the league elites. KD’s decision may have been a good business choice, but it could harm the competitive nature of the sport.

We don’t yet know how much better the Warriors will be than the rest of the league next year. Its possible that they will have too much talent that they won’t be able to work together, though it’s not likely. I suspect that the team out of Oakland California will be dominating a lot of teams next season, and it will probably get ugly.

One such team will probably be the Philadelphia 76ers. As I mentioned earlier, they are one such team that despite the NBA’s best efforts to pull them up from the bottom continues to be atrocious.

Last season, while the Warriors were 73-9, the 76ers were 10-72. It takes the last four years  of the teams records combined to amount more wins than the Warriors had last season.

During that period the 76ers went 81-247 with just over three losses to every one win the team had. Its been 4 seasons since the team had at least a .500 record, and 33 years since the team last won an NBA championship. This year the team drafted phenom Ben Simmons but its unlikely that the team will be any better, especially not immediately next year.

Kevin Durant joining the Warriors is bad for the competition of basketball. The Warriors have the opportunity to be one of the sickest, most dominating teams in the history of the league, but players of this caliber joining together could set a dangerous precedent for the league.

Players should have the freedom to sign and play for whatever team that they please, but I am also a firm believer in upholding the competition of the game.

I’m for the kind of competition that pits the leagues top players against other top players. I want to see Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson, Kevin Durant versus Steph Curry, not joining forces together.

I would much rather watch the NBA where Lebron James takes on Steph Curry, or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook take on Chris Paul, not watch super teams dominate the rest of the league.

Sure, teams will rise up to dominate the league, slowly but surely, but its not fair for one team to have half the all-star squad, while another continues to dwindle with more losses than wins every year.

I want to see the pride of one of the greatest going up against another one of the greatest in the league and battling it out for their team.

If forced to choose between business or the health of competition for the game that we love, I hope that competition wins out, and that basketball as well as other sports continues to value their pride as a world class athlete over what will be easiest for winning.

We can’t fault Kevin Durant here; he merely joined the system that was already in place. Teams like the Heat and Celtics that formed “Big threes” probably motivated Durant in his decision several years later.

If this continues to happen, if all-stars join all-stars and teams stack up all the talent in the league on three teams it may make for an exciting matchup between a team of five super stars against another, but that’s an all-star team not a regular season game.

One superstar team is not good for the league, its not good for competition, and its not good for teams that may not have a superstar now. Superstars should build up their team, not leave for another team just because it’s easy.

Sure, the 2016-17 Warrios will make a great 2k team, but lets protect the underdog, the rise of the bottom feeder to the top of the sport, and the competition of the sport.

Lets protect the competitive nature that the NBA has always had. Otherwise the NBA becomes less than a game, it becomes merely a business, and we have lost the surprise of who might win the next years championship.

No hate for Kevin Durant, who made a great decision for himself, but competition throughout the whole league matters, lets not let it die out.

BONUS:

Here is one persons funny imagination about how the Warriors line up against other NBA teams next season:

 

 

 

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