O’Neil: Warriors’ title doesn’t feel as satisfying with Kevin Durant on board
I’ve watched the Warriors draft Tellis Frank in the first round.
And Todd Fuller in the first round.
Then they traded Chris Webber for Tom Gugliotta, whom they subsequently dealt for Donyell Marshall in a downhill progression that isn’t just evident in hindsight, but was readily apparent at the time. And while I’m not old enough to remember Golden State trading Robert Parrish and the pick that would become Kevin McHale for big man Joe Barry Carroll, who is best remembered as “Joe Barely Cares,” I do recall with painful clarity when the Warriors traded Mitch Richmond for Billy Owens’ love handles.
All this is a long way of saying that after a 20-year stretch of fairly uninterrupted disappointment while cheering the Warriors, I thought I would enjoy a season as a prohibitive favorite.
I didn’t, though. At least not as much as I thought I would.
I’m glad Golden State won the NBA title on Monday night, and while I’m sure the champagne tastes great, this season was definitely less filling. The presence of Kevin Durant has eaten away at the satisfaction of this season, which is strange because Durant is one of my favorite individual players in the league. Not only that, he’s one of two active players in the league to have ever played for the Seattle SuperSonics.
I couldn’t have been happier that Durant ditched Oklahoma City this summer, and the fact that he was going from the team I hate more than any other in this world to my favorite team should have been an absolute coup.
Except it’s not nearly as much fun to root for the team that has the deck stacked in its favor.
Wait. That’s not quite right. Because the Seahawks were the most talented team in the NFL in 2013, and that didn’t make their title any less satisfying to the city. And while it was Seattle’s first Super Bowl, that team was also more organic.
Ohdearlord. See what this has done to me? I’m so out of sorts that I’m applying Whole Foods terminology to team building, but there was something authentic and homegrown about that Seahawks group.
Same for that Golden State team that won the title two years ago with largely the same cast of characters. Except for the best player on this year’s team, which would be Durant.
I don’t blame the Warriors for signing him. What are you supposed to do, tell the purest scoring machine in the NBA that you don’t want him to play for you?
But as much as I love Durant’s game, his decision to sign on with the team that bounced his squad in last year’s playoffs seemed more than a little like cherry picking, and while he’s got every right to pick the place that he thinks will be best for him to play, well, fans have every right to think that a star like Durant should be leading a bandwagon instead of joining one.
The Warriors didn’t choose Durant and build a team around him so much as he chose them, and while I’m not going to complain about my favorite NBA team winning a second title in three years, I will tell you that not only was this less enjoyable than the title the Warriors in 2015, but I found last season more fulfilling even though it didn’t ultimately result in a championship.