OAKLAND — NBA superstar Kevin Durant is officially a Golden State Warrior, and it’s all love.
His credentials are unassailable. The 2014 MVP averaged 27.2 points, 7.0 and 3.7 assists per game over his nine-year career. He’s won the scoring title four times and has been named first-team all-league five times.
All he’s missing is an NBA Championship, which is what brings him to the Bay after coming close but failing time-after-time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant stressed it was “the love” he saw from the organization that ultimately drew him away from the only pro franchise he ever knew.
“I just tried to stick to the love, man, and hold onto that part of it and make my decision,” he said, “and I did and I’m happy I’m here.”
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala impressed KD (who is famously nickname resistant) by making the effort to fly to the East Coast for a meeting in the Hamptons. During that get-together, Iguodala got emotional, which resonated with the 6-foot-9 scoring swingman.
“He spilled it out,” Durant said. “He said that it would be the most fun you’ll have in your life, and the guys all love to play basketball, they love each other, they love the environment, and he was just real, man, and I believed him. He was genuine.”
What’s clear from Durant’s “courting” — as general manager Bob Myers called it — is the inspiring company culture fostered by the Warriors. It’s equal parts “genuine,” “authentic” and “organic,” according to Durant.
And it netted the best true free agent this offseason and possibly many to come. (LeBron James is technically available.)
“Steve [Kerr] coming in and one of his principles and pillars is let’s have fun. Let’s work hard, but let’s have fun while we’re at it,” Myers explained. “… Everybody does things in different ways. I don’t know if this is the right way to do it, but if you can be successful and enjoy yourself. It’s a heck of a good time.”
Thursday’s introductory press conference felt more like a fanfest. Complete with applause after nearly every answer, “fun” clearly was on everybody’s mind. Kerr opened his remarks by asserting he hadn’t made up his mind whether the future hall of famer would be in the starting lineup.
Durant, previously seen in Oracle Arena offering soft-stated responses, had jokes of his own. He cracked that assistant coach Ron Adams was the sole reason for joining the Dubs, and that he “didn’t know [Klay Thompson] had a phone” but that it was clear he did after receiving several text messages following their meeting.
The major takeaway: Durant is smitten with his new organization. And he should be, as he adds even more firepower to what was already the best-ever collection of shooters.
But he knows the outside world doesn’t share his adoration of what Myers and owner Joe Lacob are building. As long as they’re winning, the list of detractors, which gets longer by the hour, can kick rocks for all they care.
“When you’re on top, someone always wants to take you down,” Lacob said. “We understand that. That goes with the territory — that pressure, that stress … [those] expectations. So? What else is new?”
Durant stressed throughout the process that his decision would be based on who gives him the best chance to succeed. With the Warriors, he’ll see more open shots, play with a world-class collection of players and be idolized by fans throughout Northern California.
Who wouldn’t love that?