Given, Not Earned: The Kevin Durant Championship Run

This past Monday,  Kevin Durant accomplished something that many NBA players never get to experience over the course of their professional careers:  win an NBA championship.  Winning a championship is something that many will agree to be the ultimate goal of any NBA player.  While some NBA stars and legends have gone on to have long, successful careers, failure to win a championship tends to leave a void that no other individual accomplishment can seem to fill.  Fortunately for Kevin Durant, this is a problem that he may no longer have to face.

Despite winning the Finals MVP award for his incredible performance in the 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, many are refusing to give Kevin Durant the credit that he seemingly deserves, for a multitude of reasons.  For starters, many can’t seem to get over the fact that Mr. Durant joined the team that came back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate his former team from championship contention in the 2015/2016 season.  Rightfully so.  As a competitor, one would think that Kevin Durant would’ve used this past failure as motivation to come back better, stronger and more focused to overthrow the defending Western Conference champions.  Instead, he took what most consider to be the easy way out, by joining them!  Considering the Warriors won 73 regular season games in the 2015/2016 NBA season, and were one game away from completing what could’ve been the greatest season in NBA history, it is crystal clear that they did not need the services of Kevin Durant to be a formidable team.  In fact, one could make the argument that they may have very well have won the championship had Draymond Green kept his composure and played the entire series; but I digress.  So, for Kevin Durant to weigh out his options and decided to join this team would constitute what Stephen A. Smith categorized as a weak move.

Many of Durant’s fans have made the counter argument that this move was similar to LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010.  That, my friends, is absolute malarkey.  LeBron James did not leave the Cavaliers to join the Boston Celtics team that had just eliminated his team from championship contention.  He did not leave a top 5 type talent sidekick, with a bonafide deep roster.  Instead, he left a team that continuously failed to assemble a roster with enough help to contend for a championship (and no, an old and ailing Shaq does not count as help either). There is simply not a cogent argument to be made there.

Secondly, to join a team that essentially deprived you of what you should have considered rightfully yours is as cowardly of a move as I’ve ever seen. It is almost like walking in on your friend being assaulted by a group of men, and instead of helping out, joining the mob in this endeavor.  As a man, I am not quite sure how one’s pride could perceive the situation any differently.  I suppose the saying “if you can’t beat them, join them” was taken literally.

Lastly, this road to a championship was about as easy of a playoff run as we’ve ever seen.  The 16-1 record that the Warriors tallied up is indicative of that fact.  Besides the game 4 loss, the close contest in game 3, and game 1 of the Western Conference finals (prior to Kawhi Leonard’s injury), the Warriors did not break a sweat.  Kevin Durant was not challenged.  With two of the greatest shooters in NBA history on the same team as him, who would dare to double-team?  Kevin Durant’s high shooting percentages are indicative of the ease at which he operated.

Again, his fans make the argument that his efficiency is simply an illustration of his greatness; but let’s face it, all NBA superstars would feast if they had 1 on 1 coverage each time down the court.  What NBA superstar doesn’t face double teams?  Especially one who stands at 6’11 with the ball handling skills of a point guard, and the shooting range of a sniper?  He is literally a walking mismatch for any defender.  His 30 plus point average was about as easy of an exhibition as I’ve ever seen.

The bottom line is this:  although Kevin Durant a) finally won an NBA championship, b) ended up with the finals MVP, and c) did so averaging stellar numbers, this accomplishment will always come with an asterisk next to it, simply because it was given and not earned.  It was a given that he would win an NBA championship simply by joining the Warriors (just ask David West).  Let’s face it, if your mom has to convince you that you earned it, because even you don’t seem to truly believe that you did, then you probably did not.  The lack of tears or any great emotion after the win goes to prove my point.  Kevin Durant is not deserving of credit for this championship.

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