Kevin Durant’s decision a few weeks ago to team with the Golden State Warriors is far from comparable to LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010.
Durant made the quarrelsome decision to unite with the Warriors on Independence Day, writing his decision on The Players’ Tribune.
After observing from afar the varying opinions of basketball followers, many NBA fans compared Durant’s marquee decision to “The Decision,” a fundraising, ESPN show in which LeBron said the magic words: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
But, while the philosophy of joining a team with talent may be consistent, Durant joining the Warriors isn’t the same exact thing as LeBron—not by a long-shot.
Ensuing winning the MVP twice, LeBron joined a Miami Heat team—a team with a nonexistent championship core, minus Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem—to win a title with a group of players that had some potential. Wade and Haslem won a championship with Shaquille O’Neal in 2006; however, there were no other players on the 2010 roster, besides the two aforementioned, who haven’t even sniffed a championship.
Meanwhile, Durant, an MVP and a seven-time all-star with a career average of 27.4 points, joins a team with the entire 2015 and 2016 championship nucleus still intact: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the other usual title suspects. Not to mention, the Warriors came within a minute of repeating as champions.
The concepts are completely different: one superstar player joins a team with potential, and the other superstar joins a team with results.
Durant joining the Los Angeles Clippers, an ostentatious squad of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford, would have been a much better comparison as those talented players have never won a championship, much like Chris Bosh prior to 2010.
Then, there are also folks saying LeBron started this super team precedent. This is absolutely false. All one has to do is reference the teams in the 80s—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers—and come to the realization that there were only a handful of teams winning multiple championships in the 80s: Celtics and Lakers.
In recent memory, LeBron didn’t even start the super team strategy. It was actually the Celtics of the late 2000s, a team that mobilized Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. This team resulted in going to two NBA Finals and winning one. Blame the Celtics, in recent memory of course, starting this super team thing.
Still, most players joining already established championship winning teams are those who have been in the league for a very long time and are on the downside of their careers. Examples are Clyde Drexler to the Houston Rockets, Karl Malone to the Los Angeles Lakers, Gary Payton to the Lakers and Heat, and most recently, David West to the San Antonio Spurs and Warriors.
When asked on what drove his decision in teaming up with Curry at the introductory press conference, Durant said this team has a specific mentality.
“I just felt like when these group of guys, when they came in to see me, everything was real,” Durant said. “You hear, from the outside looking in, nothing but great things about this organization, and you never know how it is until you get face-to-face with these guys. So to see Steph, Klay, Draymond and Andre walk in the house I was in, I could tell they were about business.”
That’s interesting seeing as though last year’s Thunder actually had the Warriors on the ropes, up 3-1, but couldn’t close the deal in three straight games. That’s actually the complete opposite of business savvy.
But of course, LeBron joining one single superstar player who is about business is way different than Durant joining a team full of businessmen.