While much of the United States was busy setting up their fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, the world of basketball was enjoying some fireworks of its own, after free agent and star forward Kevin Durant announced that he would be joining the Golden State Warriors.
In an interesting twist, the news was broken not by a fan website or the news arm of a major media company, but by Durant himself. The 27-year-old wrote about his decision in a post on Players Tribune, a sports-news site that was started by baseball star Derek Jeter in 2014 and caters to sports celebrities. A note underneath the piece described Durant as the deputy publisher of the site.
“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life,” Durant wrote. “It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.” According to a number of reports, the contract is for $54.3 million over two years.
Many basketball fans, and especially Warriors fans, celebrated Durant’s decision to join the Oakland, California team because it will create what analysts believe is one of the best lines in the sport, with Durant joining 3-point shooting sensation Stephen Curry, as well as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Warriors came within inches of winning the recent NBA championship series, but were ultimately beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers, thanks primarily to star player LeBron James. Many basketball watchers now believe that adding Durant to the team means the Warriors are the favorite to win next year’s championship.
Supporters of Durant’s previous team the Oklahoma City Thunder, however, weren’t quite as enthusiastic about losing one of their star players. Some felt that Durant was taking the easy route to a championship by joining an already powerful team, instead of working to take a lower-tier team up in the rankings.
LeBron james was criticized in much the same way when he initially left the Cleveland Cavaliers to go to Miami, before eventually returning to the Cleveland team.
Under league rules, teams were allowed to start making offers to free agents as of July 1, and many sent entire delegations to the Hamptons to try and woo Durant, like foreign dignitaries meeting with a king. The Boston Celtics sent a group that included quarterback Tom Brady, and Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly started crying while trying to win Durant over.