Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with Golden State made waves throughout the NBA as many try to fathom the idea of NBA teams having to face a lineup people could only envision in All-Star games or international play. As expected, a wave of responses followed Durant’s decision, with many of them criticizing the 2014 MVP for an “easier” path at chasing rings. TNT analyst Reggie Miller is among that group, as the former shooting guard shared his thoughts on the situation via a column on Bleacher Report.
In the article, Miller talks about how this is not only a bad look for the league in general because of the massive competitive shift away from small market teams like OKC, but also for Durant. Miller states that, by leaving for Golden State, Durant is tossing away his legacy for rings, and that staying in a small market like OKC to face the giants of large-market teams would have been better for his growth as a player.
Miller also states that Durant should have had the desire to go against his fellow superstars who prevailed against him in the playoffs. But by joining the star-studded team that beat him, he is opting to leave his kingdom where, whether he won a championship or not, he was going to carve out a special legacy of his own as he did during his time with the Indiana Pacers.
Had he stayed in Oklahoma City, people would have said, “He spurned all the other offers and continued to fight the giant.”
Even if Durant didn’t win a championship like me, John Stockton or players who briefly spent time elsewhere like Ewing, Karl Malone, etc. the rest of the world would have looked at him in a different light because he fought, rather than joined, the giants—LeBron, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Chris Paul, etc. And to me, that’s a true legacy.
Essentially, Miller claims that by leaving OKC, Durant opted to give up fighting and took what he perceives as a shortcut in pursuit of a ring. In Miller’s mind, that is something he sees as tarnishing Durant’s legacy, regardless of the amount of championships he might win with the Warriors.
Having played all of his 18 seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Miller has a pretty good idea of how it feels playing with smaller-market teams. But during those seasons, he never won a ring, while many of his fellow peers did and were immortalized and better remembered for it.
There are plenty of all-time greats without a ring. But Durant wants to become immortalized as an all-time great who won championships. For the new Warriors forward, that is possibly what it all comes down to at the end of the day.