At the Golden State Warriors’ training facility in Oakland, California, Kevin Durant stepped up to the podium and answered the first question of the 2018-19 season: How would he handle all the attention he would get for his upcoming free agency after the season?
Get up in the morning, come to practice and go home, Mr. Durant said.
Gave the reigning Bay Area champion his tenor his final season.
Durant didn’t want to focus on his upcoming decision – but his contract, which includes a player option for 2019-2020, made it difficult to avoid speculation. There was speculation that the other Warrior stars had crashed: Stephen Curry signed a contract extension for up to $201 million in 2017, and Draymond Green is in the midst of a five-year extension. And if Klay Thompson also became a free agent at the end of the season, there was never any question of him leaving.
It’s one of those things where you just have confidence in your ability and just want to do it year after year, Durant said at the time. And I think it was the best option for me….
This is going to be a fun and exciting year for all of us, and I look forward to focusing on this and seeing what happens when the year is over.
While Durant and the Warriors tried to focus on what they were doing on the court, the uncertainty of his decision to become a free agent hung over everything the organization did last season – during the regular season, in the postseason, and finally in the away game of the Finals when both Durant and Thompson were injured.
Durant, now with the Brooklyn Nets, will face the Warriors for the first time at the Chase Center (8:30 p.m. on ABC) in San Francisco. Here we look at his final year as a Warrior and the destruction of the Golden State dynasty – in the words of Durant and the Warriors.
9. November 2018: Visit to the future site of the Chase Center
During: My imagination is running wild with possibilities.
- The organizers made sure the tour was not a recruiting ground, but it quickly became clear where all the attention was as they moved through the unfinished arena initially set up for the media and team sponsors. After being told by construction workers that he was the first player to visit the facility, Durant, who was there when the building was inaugurated in 2017, took a walk and asked a few questions during the tour. He smiled when the reporter asked him if he wanted to contact the Warriors there. What should we do? Durant asked how the Warriors staff is trying to expedite things.
- At the beginning of the 2018-19 season, the Warriors were hoping Durant would step up at the end of the season. Many in the organization believed that as long as the Warriors won their third consecutive title, there was no reason why the superstar wouldn’t want to move to a state-of-the-art $1.4 billion arena in San Francisco.
- Upon leaving the construction site, the Warrior’s manager ordered Durant to sign the construction boots that had been specially ordered for him that day. Stephen Collins, the Chase Center construction manager at the time, proudly wore the boots in front of him. The Warriors hoped to have them on display someday once the new building opened and Durant signed a new contract. Now the boots are a reminder of what could have been. Officials know the boots arrived at the Chase Centre, but no one knows exactly where they ended up after the move.
- At this point in the season, the Warriors continue to dominate, defining Durant’s mandate. The team has won 10 of its first 11 games, including one win Oct. 29 against the Chicago Bulls, in which Thompson set an NBA record of 14 to 3 points, beating Curry’s previous record (13 points) in his first season at Golden State (Durant). Mr. Durant said these two are breaking records.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry averaged 53.3 points per game in the 2018-19 season, making them the No. 1 scoring duo in the NBA. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
12. November 2018: Durant and Green talk at Staples Center
Sean Livingston: The boys wanted a different outcome than what happened. Obviously, Dray had a turnover; maybe the guys thought they were free or wanted the basketball but didn’t get it. These things happen in sports. But it was nice to see a little fire, a little emotion.
Green, up to 20 continuous. April 2020: Durant’s contract] was like an elephant in the room, and even though [coach] Steve [Kerr] kind of beat him, [said] : Let’s enjoy this year, because we don’t know what will happen next year, it doesn’t necessarily have the same weight: Hey, man, that’s it. Let’s do it or not.
- While Stephen Curry was nursing a groin injury at home, the Warriors were on the road to face the Los Angeles Clippers in a game that would determine the rest of the Golden State season. With the score tied and only seconds left to play, Green intercepts a pass and runs to the ground. Durant comes in and forces Green to play the ball to him. Green’s antics led to the exclusion of his teammates shortly thereafter. The Warriors lost in extension, and controversy seeped into the locker room. Neither Durant nor Green went to the media.
- It turned out that several of Green’s teammates questioned his late decisions and Green verbally retaliated in a tirade full of statements, sources told ESPN’s unimpeachable Adrian Wojnarowski and Mark Spears. According to some sources, Green has also questioned Durant’s loyalty with his free agency on the horizon. The Warriors suspended Green for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.
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Kerr, 13 years old. November 2018: No one ever talks about Kevin’s free agency. It doesn’t bother any of us. It’s the NBA. There are people who are under contract, they are future free agents. It’s business. We’re focusing on this year.
- The day after the locker room fireworks, Kerr tried to make it seem like Durant’s decision had no impact on the organization. The reality is that the awkwardness between Green and Durant at Staples only made things worse.
- Although Green’s comments justified the suspension from an organizational standpoint, sources said the general consensus was that the last regular game against the Clippers was a tipping point for all the tension surrounding Durant and his future.
- The Warriors failed immediately, losing four games in a row for the first time in the Kerr era. When asked about his relationship with Green after his revenge on the 15th. It was November, Durant said: Don’t ask me that again.
5. February 2019: Durant tears up the media
During: I had nothing to do with the Knicks. I don’t know who switched the Porzingis. They have nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. You come here every day and ask me questions about Free Agency, you ask my teammates, my coaches. They turn on the fans with this. Let’s play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. And now that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s a problem for me. I don’t trust any of you. Every time I say something, it gets twisted and thrown into all sorts of publications that try to demolish me with the words I say. So if I don’t say anything, it’s a problem. I just want to play baseball. I want to go to the gym and go home. That’s all I’m saying. Is that a problem? Good. Good.
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Kerr, eight. February 2019: We’re all actors in a soap opera. That’s right. So we have to take care of that part. And also understand that this is a big part of the income. The interest and passion with which fans follow who goes where, what the team does. It would be good if everyone volunteered to pay attention to the cover, but sometimes gossip is more interesting.
André Iguodala, 4. April 2019: There’s always something going on. And especially with the microscope on [us], it’s always something. So I wouldn’t say this year is more important than last year. It’s just talk. It’s more about talking about the future. And I think we did a good job of preventing his infiltration.
- The focal point that has defined much of the Warriors’ last two seasons has been cracked: an unusual 33-point home loss to the Boston Celtics and a 35-point loss to the Mavericks in March. The Phoenix Suns, who had never beaten a Western Conference team at home, frustrated Thompson so much that he blamed the fans at Oracle Arena for not being more energetic.
- The Warriors won 57-25 – their worst record of the Kerr era to date – and entered the postseason as No. 1 in the Western Conference, still driven by the belief that, despite the bad season, they can still turn it around when it counts.
10. June 2019: KD tears Achilles tendon in NBA Finals
Kerr: Fingers will point at each other, and we understand that. And we accept it. That’s what you commit to when you’re a coach and NBA general manager. There are all kinds of reports, judgments, criticisms, and that’s all part of it, so we accept that. The important thing is, we’re worried about Kevin, and all we’ve done for the past few days is watch him. It’s obvious that everyone feels bad about what happened.
General Manager Bob Myers: Durant] is one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair.
- Durant missed more than a month after suffering a calf injury in Game 5 of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, but the Warriors managed to get through six games without him, including an epic second-half 33-point performance by Curry in Game 6 that sealed the victory. The Warriors celebrated lavishly in the visitors’ locker room, while Durant, who was in rehab with the team, posted a photo on Instagram to celebrate the victory. After four games with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, the Warriors became the first team to reach the Finals five times in a row since 1957 to 1966, when the Boston Celtics did so 10 times.
- Much of the discussion centered on whether Durant should return to the NBA Finals if he was not in good health. With Golden State leading 3-1 against the Toronto Predators, the Warriors’ medical staff and Durant’s inner circle reported for game five. He seemed to be injury-free and contributed 11 points in 12 minutes. But with 9 minutes and 51 seconds left in the second quarter, Durant fell to the ground while reaching for the same right calf. The Warriors made a last-second comeback to force game six, but the locker room was strangely quiet after the game. Myers tried to hold back his tears on stage and the players quietly changed in front of their lockers. Three days later, Thompson tore his ACL and the Raptors won game six and the title.
30. June 2019. KD board with wires
Owner Joe Lacob: Today, as he begins a new chapter in his incredible career, we thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part of one of the most successful games in NBA history, and we wish him the very best on his path to the Hall of Fame. As long as I am co-chair of this team, no player will ever wear number 35 for the Warriors again.
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Durant, in ESPN’s first take on the 31st. October 2019: I was under the impression that a lot of things have resurfaced in Golden State. I felt this was definitely the end, especially for this band. Sean Livingston has retired. Andre Iguodala was getting old. Our contracts had to start for the team and put us in a hole to get other players. It’s time for all of us to go our separate ways.
- Durant signed with the Nets on the first night of free agency. His decision quickly forced Myers, who flew to New York in a last-ditch effort to persuade Durant to stay, to change course. The Warriors have struck a deal with Brooklyn, which has sent D’Angelo Russell to the Bay Area in hopes that he can form a dynamic new backcourt with Curry while Thompson recovers. To make room for Russell’s max deal, Iguodala was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies in a corresponding move. Livingston’s retired. So did veteran Andrew Bogut, who was added just before the playoffs. When the Warriors finally opened the Chase Center, they did so with a completely different team behind Curry and Green.
Kerr, 30 years old. September 2019: We want to maintain the culture we have created, but we want to put our players in the best possible position to succeed. And for the last four years, we know exactly what that means. We don’t know what that means this year. So we have a lot of work to do, but it’s exciting, I’m looking forward to it.
- Kerr’s excitement at the Warriors’ media day quickly faded. Curry broke his left hand in the fourth game of the year. On both coasts, Curry, Thompson and Durant rehabbed with serious injuries.
Kevin Durant’s first game with the Nets against the Warriors ended in a 125-99 victory for Brooklyn. Sarah Senior/Getty Images
KD, Warriors share the end of era:
Durant, via the Wall Street Journal at 10:00. September 2019: Over time, I began to realize that I was just different from the other boys. That’s not bad. Just my situation and how I got into the league. And on top of that, the media has always seen him as the KD and the Warriors. It’s like I can’t take all the credit for that. … I went there with the desire to be part of the group, part of the family, and I certainly felt accepted. But I’ll never be one of those guys.
Kerr, supra All Smoke at 15. October 2020: We all felt that Kevin probably wanted to move forward and take on a new challenge. … They’ve helped us organize two championships and almost one more. And you brought incredible joy to Oracle every night, and our fans got to see one of the best basketball teams in the country. That’s how I felt: Thank you and good luck and get well.
- It was a time of transition for Durant and the Warriors. Curry played just one game before being suspended for the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to the KOVID-19 pandemic. Durant, still recovering from an Achilles injury that forced him to miss the entire 2019-20 season, was one of the first NBA players to report testing positive for the virus.
- For 2020, the Warriors sent Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a package that included Andrew Wiggins and a future lightly protected first round draft pick. With a record in the league of 15-50, the Warriors got the second pick in the 2020 draft and selected Memphis great James Wiseman. The excitement surrounding Sage’s arrival was contained – just hours before the surge, Thompson tore his Achilles tendon in a pickup game in Los Angeles and was absent for the entire 2020-21 season.
22. December 2020: Durant returns to the field; Warriors welcome Nets on opening night
Kerr: I didn’t know what to expect, considering it’s really been a year and a half since his last game. But I couldn’t tell the difference between him 18 months ago and last night.
Durant, 21. December 2020: I don’t need this game, I don’t need to play well, I don’t need to win this game to feel like I’m done. If winning a basketball game rules me out for three years, I probably didn’t have a good time there.
Kerr, eight. February: When we first played in Brooklyn, I talked to Clay a few days later. We talked about Kevin’s looks and his inspiration. And Clay has noticed that, and he feels really good about watching Kevin and his game and how well he plays and how good he looks physically.
- Five days before the Warriors’ game against Durant and the Nets, Kerr was asked if Thompson was using Durant’s strong recovery from his own Achilles injury as motivation for him to return to the All-Star level. The return of Durant as one of the best players in the game has made the Warriors happy in two ways: Proud of his own professional success and hoping Thompson will follow the same path back to glory.
- The Warriors and the Nets enter Saturday’s game with ups and downs. Curry quickly returned to his old form, averaging 30.0 points per game on 42.9% of his shots from beyond the arc, but he didn’t get consistent help from his teammates like he did when Thompson was healthy and Durant was still a teammate. The Nets are in the middle of the American season and are trying to find a rhythm – especially defensively – after being sidelined in Week 13. Janvier acquired former Rockets star James Harden in a blockbuster production. Durant comes into the game averaging 29.5 points, but has missed some time due to health and safety protocols in the league. And Kyrie Irving played well, but missed the two-week clinic in mid-January for personal reasons. Both teams still have a lot of talent, but each has shown their weaknesses in the first two months of the season.
frequently asked questions
What does KD say about warriors?
Why did Kevin Durant leave a weapon behind?
I thought it was time for a change. I wanted to play for a new team, Durant said at the team’s 2019 media day. To put it simply, I did.
Why did Kevin Durant pick 35?
Kevin Durant has worn the number 35 his entire basketball career, including his only season with the Texas Longhorns. The song was given in honor of his former AAU coach, Charles Craig, who was killed at the age of 35, according to a report by Chip Brown of the Dallas Morning News.
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