Everybody loves drama. We are all drawn to the doomsday scenario. Every summer blockbuster movie needs to up the stakes until the destruction of the world is not only constantly threatened but often partially initiated. The Durant signing seems to have fed into the tragic horror of most sports fans. Let’s skip the season! The system is broken and we need a hard cap and we need to eliminate max salaries! How can the league survive with just a few super teams! What’s the point of watching basketball or even bothering to play out the season! Now there absolutely will have to be a lockout! I probably should have written all those statements in capitals as well as with exclamation points.
It would probably be wise for everyone to wake up today, the day after 4th of July, and take some long, slow, deep breaths and chill the fuck out. I’ll admit that my initial reaction bordered a bit on sadness. Golden State will be a lot of fun next year but I had kind of enjoyed briefly wondering who might win the NBA championship next year. Strangely, if I were a betting man, I would have put my money on Oklahoma City. I thought they were the best team in the playoffs. Their regular season wasn’t great but I thought Steven Adams made a huge leap and the whole team found an identity and there was really no excuse for losing 3 in a row to what appeared to be an inferior Golden State team. Two historic level collapses, first by the Thunder and then by Golden State themselves had to occur in order to get where we are today on July 5th. Had The Thunder closed out their series against Golden State, had Klay Thompson not had one of the greatest shooting nights in NBA history in game 6, the Thunder would have made it to the NBA finals and would probably have been favorites to win. Had they won last year would Durant be on The Warriors today? Similarly, had Draymond not lost his mind and punched LeBron in the nuts and had Curry not forgotten that it’s possible to drive past Kevin Love the Warriors would probably not have lost to the Cavs in one of the historically shocking finals collapses ever and Durant would probably not have considered joining the reining 2 time NBA champs. The unprecedented rise in cap money also had to happen just as one of the very best players in the game became a free agent in a year when the other free agents were frankly not top echelon players. I’m trying to make the point here that a lot of variables had to unfold in very specific ways for Durant to end up on Golden State.
I’m going to try and avoid doing too much arm chair psychology concerning Durant’s state of mind, but I think clearly, had he really enjoyed playing with Russell Westbrook, he would not have left Oklahoma City. I’m not saying they do not like each other and all that kind of stuff. I’m simply saying that if he wanted his career to stay linked with Westbrook why would he leave. OKC would probably have had just as good odds of winning it all next year as Golden State had he stayed. On some level, style of basketball must have meant something to Durant. It doesn’t hurt that Durant leaving both makes Golden State better but also greatly diminishes their biggest rival (I just don’t think they fear San Antonio the same way they did OKC). Having said all that perhaps Durant simply didn’t like the schools in his school district or he just wanted to be on the west coast. There are a million factors going into where each one of us considers living.
For me what is so fascinating is how insane it is that Cleveland won the NBA championship. LeBron seemed to will the Cavs to the finish line. I did not think it was possible for any team in the NBA to beat Golden State three times in a row. Yes, Draymond had to get suspended and Bogut hurt and Iguodala hurt (and possibly Curry was hurt as well) but still, I didn’t see the Cavs shutting down Golden State’s offense. LeBron proved he is far and away the best player on the planet in just about every facet of the game (except shooting. He better get a shooting coach before his body deteriorates if he wants his career to last beyond the point at which he is the most physically dominant basketball player in the world). If Lebron weren’t so good Durant would probably still be on OKC, or maybe not. The important thing to remember here is these are very young men playing a game and we should all relax a bit. It seems like Golden State is going to win it all next year but then again it seemed that way last year as well. You never know. Sports are unpredictable and life can still be entertaining even if the existence of the world isn’t at stake.