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Kevin Durant is a Warrior

July 27, 2016

by Lee Hubbard

Kevin Durant shows the world he’s a Warrior. – Photo: Lee Hubbard

Kevin Durant shows the world he’s a Warrior. – Photo: Lee Hubbard

Kevin Durant, the 6-foot-10 basketball star, is now a Golden State Warrior, as he signed a two year $54 million free agent contract to join the team. He announced his decision on July 4, Independence Day, and the announcement sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and the country.

After being wooed by six different teams over the 4th of July weekend, ranging from the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors and the Thunder in the Hamptons of New York, Durant was ready for a change and a new basketball experience.

“I feel good about this opportunity and I am glad I am here,” said Durant as he looked into the crowd at his introductory press conference. “I am excited and I am ready to play basketball.”

Speaking at the Warriors practice facility in downtown Oakland, Durant looked dapper in a blue single button suit and dress shirt and white tennis shoes. Over one hundred media members were in attendance, Oakland public officials such as Mayor Libby Schaaf and several Warriors season ticket holders. Durant was seated in the middle, between Warrior head coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers.

“This is a new journey for me, testing the unknown, and I trusted it,” said Durant on signing with the Warriors. “I trusted my gut. I trusted my instincts. It’s an unpopular decision, but I can live with it.”

“I feel good about this opportunity and I am glad I am here,” said Durant as he looked into the crowd at his introductory press conference. “I am excited and I am ready to play basketball.”

A native of Washington, D.C., the 27-year-old Durant was one of the pillars of the Thunder after the team moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City eight years ago. A silky smooth scorer and one of the best scorers in the NBA, he helped lead the Thunder to the NBA finals in 2012.

Lee Hubbard, Kevin Durant at introductory press conf 070716 by KTVU News

Lee Hubbard, right, is one of the reporters talking with Kevin Durant in this frame from KTVU’s coverage of the introductory press conference.

He was the NBA MVP in 2013 and he helped make the Thunder a perennial championship contender. He also was a pillar in the Oklahoma City community. He donated his time and money to various civic causes, including giving the Red Cross of Oklahoma a million dollars after the state was devastated by a tornado.

During this past season, he was an unrestricted free agent and he was intrigued by the Warriors team and how they played. But it felt to many that Durant would stay with the Thunder.

He probably would’ve until he was swayed by the Warriors presentation during the 4th of July weekend in the Hamptons. The Warrior management team of Coach Kerr, General Manager Bob Myer and Warrior owner Joe Lacob came to talk to him along with players Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The players then made their pitch to Durant.

“You hear players talk about how much they enjoy each other, but sometimes that is not true. But to see them together, you can tell that it was true,” said Durant. “We broke up into a small group and talked about how is it. How is the coaching? How is the fan section? How is it being on the team plane? Stuff you really don’t see. Stuff that goes into the product you put on the court.”

They talked about the benefits of playing with them and he said he could see the joy in the four. From there his decision went back and forth between staying in Oklahoma or moving to the Bay Area. He came to a decision at 7 a.m. on the 4th of July.

“That call to Oklahoma City was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. Tears were shed. I trusted my gut,” Durant said. “It was difficult to leave a place that I have been for so long and it will be different. But this is a new journey that I am ready to embrace.”

Kevin Durant and the U.S. team beat Argentina in a pre-Olympics exhibition game in Las Vegas Friday. – Photo: L.E. Baskow, AP

Kevin Durant and the U.S. team beat Argentina in a pre-Olympics exhibition game in Las Vegas Friday. – Photo: L.E. Baskow, AP

“I understand the fans in Oklahoma City and basketball fans around the world are, I guess, upset. But like I said, I made the decision based upon what I wanted to do and how I felt, and it’s the best decision for me, so I can’t really control how you feel.”

Durant also wanted a change of scenery. While he is one of the biggest figures in the NBA, with his highly popular KD shoes and other advertisement opportunities, in the past, he mentioned wanting to find out more about technology and Silicon Valley and the other opportunities that may provide.

Since he announced he was going to switch teams, his decision was met with criticism from members of the media and some former NBA players. But he said his friends could care less.

“I don’t have a lot of friends on other teams, but the ones I do have, I call them brothers,” said Durant. “They love me no matter what. Guys that I don’t know will have something to say, but I really don’t know those guys. The guys in the league that I know and call brothers, this really doesn’t mean anything.”

“Basketball is a game. We play this game to take care of our families, but this is not life or death. I am gonna take it one day at a time.”

Lee Hubbard is a Bay Area journalist who is well known to longtime Bay View readers. He can be reached at superle@sbcglobal.net.

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