Before the Golden State Warriors were the 2017 NBA champions and arguably the greatest basketball team of all-time, they were merely a 73-win juggernaut with the league’s unanimous MVP and two other All-Stars.
And because that was not enough for the Warriors, they absolutely had to woo Kevin Durant in free agency last summer. And because they couldn’t possibly risk Durant signing elsewhere, they had to ramp up their courtship as soon as possible.
According to Lee Jenkins’ characteristically awesome post-Finals story for Sports Illustrated, Golden State forward Draymond Green stepped up his recruitment efforts less than an hour after the Warriors lost to LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. Via SI:
How, Green wondered, can I make sure this never happens again?
He could start a group chat, or plan a Hawaiian retreat, or sleep in the gym every night from June to October. But grand gestures guarantee nothing against James. “What will get us over this hump,” Green asked himself, “and make us incredible? Not just incredible for a year. What will make us incredible for a long, long time?” Rather than what, the question was who. Green believed the Warriors needed a player to take stress off Curry, so he wouldn’t always have to hit the 35-footer, and apply it to James, so he would never again be able to hide on Harrison Barnes, freelancing for blocks and steals. Only one such person who walks the earth was available.
And so, at that locker, in that uniform, less than an hour after the most excruciating loss of his life, Green punched up Kevin Durant’s number. “See what we’re missing,” Green says, recounting the text message he sent Durant. “We need you. Make it happen.” Green had been courting Durant for months, but this was his strongest pitch yet, delivered at the most dramatic juncture. “Right after you lose Game 7,” Green says, “shows you’re serious.”
According to Jenkins’ story, Durant responded that night, “I’m ready. Let’s do this.” Sixteen days later, he signed with Golden State, setting in motion the campaign that ended Monday with the Warriors hoisting the O’Brien Trophy.
If history is any precedent, we imagine LeBron and Paul George are texting right this second.