A day after former Warriors forward Kevin Durant agreed to terms on a four-year max deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State owner Joe Lacob said the team will not re-issue his No. 35 jersey.
“As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team,” Lacob said in a statement, “no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”
The gesture by Lacob recognizes what Durant brought to the franchise when he signed as a free agent three years ago. As one of the pillars of two title teams, winning a pair of NBA Finals MVPs, Durant helped turn Golden State into a dynasty. In the final year at Oracle Arena, Durant gave fans one more chance to say goodbye after he came back from a calf injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, only to tear his Achilles after 12 minutes on the floor.
“Three years ago, we were thrilled with the arrival of Kevin Durant, a transformative NBA player and one of the best to ever play the game,” Lacob said. “He provided our fans and franchise with numerous highlights during his stay here — two NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, three trips to the Finals, unparalleled efficiency — and carried himself with class and dignity both on and off the court.”
Durant shot 52.4% from the field in his three years with Golden State — the best stretch of his career — and 38.4% from 3-point range, with an effective field goal percentage of 58.6%. He averaged 7.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 25.8 points per game as part of an offense where, for the first time in his career, he didn’t have to be the centerpiece.
While Durant’s number is not being retired, per se, Lacob and the team have made it clear in recent weeks that Durant’s contribution to the franchise — in however brief a time — was transformative. One of the most dominant scorers in NBA history, he was a human cheat code that head coach Steve Kerr called “the ultimate luxury,” especially given the team already had two of the best shooters of all time in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
According to a report from The Athletic, Curry was on a plane from China flying to New York to meet with Durant at the start of free agency, when Durant announced his decision. Curry continued on to thank Durant, personally.
“Today, as he starts a new chapter in his incredible career, we thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey,” Lacob’s statement concluded.