When is comes to NBA heroes and villains, Kevin Durant has played both roles.
Kevin Durant began his NBA career when he was drafted in 2007 by the Seattle SuperSonics. Durant went on to win Rookie of the Year, becoming just the 3rd NBA player to average 20+ points per game as a teenager. In Durant’s 2nd year the team relocated to Oklahoma City and changed their name to the Thunder. By year three Durant was averaging 30 points a game and behind his play, the Thunder improved their record by 27 wins from the previous year and defied expectations to make the playoffs.
After just three years Durant was an elite player in the league, beloved by Oklahoma City fans and well respected already amongst his fellow NBA peers. Durant signed a 5-year extension with the Thunder prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season, making it clear he wanted to bring a championship to Oklahoma City.
Durant would get his chance in 2011-2012, when he alongside fellow all-star Russell Westbrook made it to the NBA Finals to face the Miami Heat led by LeBron James. Although they went ultimately fall short, losing in 5 games, Kevin Durant put Oklahoma City on the map as a an elite destination for NBA superstars.
Kevin Durant captured the hearts of not just sports fans, but people all around the world.
In the 2013-2014 NBA season, at just 25 years old Kevin Durant secured his first NBA regular season MVP. Durant led the league in scoring and finished the season averaging 32 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 5.5 APG. Durant’s unique ability to shot the ball, relative to his height, as well as molding his craft against the most elite NBA players, has made him one of the best NBA players in the world.
Durant had always been a fan favorite around the NBA, but that increased tenfold in 2014 after his infamous MVP speech. He spent most of his time behind the mic thanking his mother, for always pushing him, taking care of him, and instilling the confidence in him that he could be the best player in the world. Durant, trying to hold back a flurry of emotions, went on to call his mother the real MVP. The speech went viral, non sports news outlets covered the story across the country; people fell in love with Durant, who showed a more emotional side to him than most pro athletes. You can watch the speech below.
From NBA poster boy to villain.
Just two years later, after the 2015-2016 season, Kevin Durant who claimed he wanted to be in Oklahoma City his entire career; signed with the Golden State Warriors. The move was received negatively by the public and NBA analysts, with many comparing it to LeBron James’s departure of Cleveland to form the big 3 in Miami.
Many though, thought it was a far more cowardly move by Durant. Elite players recruiting other elite players to a specific team to form a super team has always been viewed negatively by most. Kevin Durant didn’t form a super team though, he joined a super team in the midst of a dynasty. Most people called it one of the weakest moves ever, especially since the team he joined (Warriors) are the ones who knocked his team (Thunder) out of the playoffs just a month prior.
Durant played his last three seasons with the Warriors, and had never won an NBA title. In those three years the Warriors won the NBA Finals twice, and Durant won Finals MVP both times. Now a champion, some call the titles tainted because he joined a dynasty half-way through. Durant doesn’t care, he did what he wanted to do, and succeeded.
The heart of a true warrior.
During Game 5 of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Durant suffered a right calf strain. Which caused him to miss the rest of this series and the next, but the Warriors went on to beat the Rockets in six games and the Trail Blazers. The Warriors made it to the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Surprisingly, Durant wasn’t able to play the first few games of the NBA Finals, many didn’t know how serious his injury was. Kevin Durant finally decided to play through the injury and started in Game 5, with the Raptors leading the series 3-1.
Durant was dominate in his initial return back, shooting 3-3 from downtown and scoring 11 points in the first quarter. Until the unthinkable happened, in the beginning of the 2nd quarter, while coming down from a jump shot, Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon. This injury will cause his to miss all of the 2019-2020 season, a full year of his prime, gone.
Kevin Durant didn’t have to come back for game 5, he was the biggest player to hit free agency this off-season and hit a huge payday. He choose to fight through a minor injury, to help his team fight, despite knowing the higher risk for a major injury. Despite losing the series in six games, Kevin Durant showed the world he is the definition of a true warrior.