We are nearing the one-year anniversary of one of the worst days in Oklahoma sports history, July 4, 2016, when beloved Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant bolted the Sooner state and signed with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent.
Durant’s OKC exit and Golden Gate arrival sent shockwaves through the entire sports world, as most people were expecting him to return to the Thunder and sign a long-term extension, which would have been largest contract in NBA history. The other surprise was he was leaving a team in Oklahoma City that had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and blew the series lead in seven games.
It was an unprecedented move by Durant, who was ridiculed both locally and nationally for being a “sell-out” and joining a roster that was already full of all-star talent. Landing Durant immediately made the Warriors almost unbeatable.
Fast-forward 11 months and here we are in the middle of the NBA Finals and Golden State is leading the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers two-games to none with the series shifting back to Cleveland.
Even with the homecourt advantage for at least the next two games, the Cavs look like they will most likely be swept in the series or at best, lose in five games, as the Warriors have crushed James’ team in the first two match ups.
Golden State ripped through their first two series against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz with four-game sweeps in each series but sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals and what they are doing to the defending NBA champs in the Finals is what has everyone going crazy about this team.
I admit, it would have been nice to see a fully healthy Spurs roster go up against this Warriors bunch. Superstar forward Kawhi Leonard and future Hall of Fame point guard Tony Parker were both sidelined for the majority of the series with injuries but I still don’t believe the Spurs would have been much of a threat to Golden State throughout a seven-game series.
The big debate right now throughout the sports world is the discussion on how Durant signing with the already stacked Warriors has ruined the NBA Playoffs. There is no doubt that KD taking the easy-route to an NBA championship has made the postseason somewhat boring and even hard to watch but what about the other negative message Mr. Durant is sending throughout the nation?
That message is bypassing adults and going straight to our children.
As you may have noticed, the increasing problem of high school athletes switching schools from year-to-year has become more and more of an issue. Oklahoma is one of the worst states when it comes to high school athletes leaving one school to go to another just for a better chance to win a state championship.
People like to point out some of the football powerhouses across the state that have stacked teams every year but it happens in every sport. There have been plenty of basketball teams in Oklahoma that have stacked their rosters with move-ins or transfers just to have a better chance of winning a state title.
The same goes for most other sports at the high school level in Oklahoma.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, a team with a lot of really good athletes can’t get it done because they don’t play well together but when it does work, it is obvious and isn’t fair to the other student-athletes across the state who abide by the rules and don’t bend or even break them just to be able to wear a piece of gold on your hand for the rest of your life.
My question is, does a state championship really feel just as good if you win it with a stacked team? I don’t see how it could.
Yeah, on the outside, you will celebrate with your teammates and act like you have just conquered the world with dogpiles and numerous celebrations but deep down inside your gut, you’ll know this was not a championship that was earned with the blood, sweat and tears in an offseason weight room, this was earned with purchase of a new house or the signing of a new apartment lease just so you could play for a loaded team.
How can we blame these 15,16 and 17-year-old children when they are seeing what KD has done?
However, the exact same will go for Durant when he holds up the gold ball and wins his first NBA championship. He’s going to act like he is the happiest man in the world and heck, he might even win the Finals Most Valuable Player Award but he is a human being and he will know deep down inside that he might be an NBA champion but it wasn’t because of his hard work, it was because did it with a nearly unbeatable team.