I think it’s finally time to acknowledge that Kevin Durant was never really the man in OKC.
Kevin Durant is a great basketball player but in terms of being the best or second coming to Lebron, he is not. Skill set aside, the pride of a man may not be something Kevin Durant has fully developed yet. The Oklahoma City Thunder birthed 4 All-Stars in Ibaka, Harden, Westbrook, and Durant. All four players are superstars in their own right, but were just boys in the beginning. When winning time came, the thunder relied on their collective talent to find a ways to win basketball games. This was a successful regular season strategy but in the playoffs were not enough for a championship.
The four players were in a unique situation where no 1 indivdual was required to be the “MAN”. Just 4 young talented kids who could play for each other and let talent carry them. That talent resulted into early success bringing the Thunder their 1st NBA Finals appearance in 2012. However, that same success also brought about their destruction.
Playing in the 2012 NBA Finals, the OKC Thunder learned how their young stars aligned with each other. Serge Ibaka proved to be a solid foundational player. James Harden was the glue that would hold all the pieces together. Russell Westbrook would be the engine that ran the machine, while Durant being the captain to bring it all home. A perfect team structure, if your captain has the heart to accept his role.
Early success ruined the thunder because Kevin Durant was not yet ready or willing to be the “Man in OKC”. With this revelation, the thunder had no identity. A team with no identity can never be a champion.
So 1 by 1 the thunder broke apart. First James Harden leaves to be the “Man” in Houston. Then Ibaka is traded, and all that’s left are Westbrook and Durant. No longer would the four have each other to cover. The narrative became, If you’re a leader… prove it?
Russell Westbrook stepped up, while Kevin Durant skipped town. Durant figured he had paid his NBA dues and looked for the cheapest way to get a ring. Joining the Golden State Warriors made perfect business sense for Durant and his family. Why not join a team that already had a ring and beat your, (Durants) boogie man to do it. The decision was within Durants right to do so, but also within the paying publics right to judge accordingly.
Russell Westbrook has shown loyalty and the ability to lead as “The Man” in OKC. Westbrook carried the leftovers all the way to the playoffs. It’s obvious out of the four young OKC stars that Russell is the player to build your franchise around. Respecting commitment to your organization as well as your paycheck is key to being a franchise player.
Oklahoma City would have paid Durant whatever it took to keep him there, but lil Kev wasn’t ready to handle the pressure being that guy. That seat isn’t built for everybody. So as a result, what Durant couldn’t handle…Westbrook took control of.
OKC fans should never expect or accept Kevin Durant back to the thunder. Why do you need him? Especially since Westbrook has proven he can be the man with virtually no help. OKC got the right player/person in the end. Be proud and build around your superstar. Let lil kev go off and ring chase while westbrook brings you a ring the right way….the respectable way.
Basketball is about men and loyalty and not just egos and fame.
Tyrone Nation Jr
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