Roundtable: Kevin Durant Feels
After Kevin Durant sounded off in the Wall Street Journal on his feelings toward Oklahoma City as a fanbase and organization, we invited Daily Thunder contributors to answer in kind.
Be honest: Are you over Kevin Durant?
Brandon Rahbar: I am over having Kevin Durant on this team as it is stands now because I am all in and excited for the rebuild. I am over KD the person because of this latest media vomit, along with all the other lovely Twitter, press conference, newspaper and magazine tidbits he’s gifted Thunder fans the past three years. I am not over the thought of what could have been had KD not left Oklahoma City. A lineup of KD, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Al Horford and Steven Adams, not to mention guys like Andre Roberson and Domantas Sabonis, would have dominated the NBA for years. I fully believe I’ll be 85 years old, rocking back and forth, looking lifeless out a window in my nursing home, wondering how many titles that Thunder team could have won.
Olivia Panchal: Yes, for the love of God, YES. All I wanted to do this off-season (after Russ and Paul George left) is decide who the true Fresh Prince of OKC is—Darius Bazley or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? I’m focused on the new era of Thunder basketball and KD couldn’t be more irrelevant.
David Brandon: Yeah, I am. He’s a great player but this is now the second place he’s left, and the Warriors locker room had some issues with him, too. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but I’m not sure he knows what he wants.
Aidan Elrod: I am over KD. It took a few years. After his first title with the Warriors, I genuinely got bored with the NBA, especially the Finals. Watching him cruise to a title every year made me wish he was doing that with the Thunder, but I hadn’t thought about him since he went to Brooklyn.
Do you think he is over OKC?
B. Rahbar: I’ve come to believe the exact opposite of what KD says these days. He says he is over OKC. So no, he is not over OKC.
O. Panchal: Clearly not.
D. Brandon: As far as having any good feelings left there? I think the reaction took care of that. He’s mad enough to be done. As far as it still being on his mind? I don’t know that it will ever stop. It’s one of the biggest “what if” stories in the NBA and people are never gonna let him forget it. And I’d bet you he’s still reading all his press. On some level I think it’s always going to bother him a little.
Elrod: I don’t think he is over OKC. Ever since he left Oklahoma City he’s been throwing constant shade at the franchise and management (especially in his recent comments). The day after KD left, Presti was quoted saying that he had “great conversations with Durant” and “that he has nothing but respect for him.” Then Kevin says he doesn’t trust the organization and the GM. If he was truly over OKC, he would stop talking about them and move on.
Should the Thunder eventually retire his number?
B. Rahbar: I have always believed in taking the high road in everything in life. Turn the other cheek, that kind of thing. After all the negative things KD has said about OKC since he took his Tweeting talents to Golden State and now Brooklyn, it would show the world what an incredibly classy organization Oklahoma City is if they still decided to retire his number. But this is the one time I’m gonna take the low road and keep my cheek right where it is. No, the Thunder should not retire his number. They shouldn’t give it to anyone else because it will become a big thing. But don’t have a ceremony with rafters, videos, confetti and “Takin’ Care of Business” blasting in The Peake, either.
O. Panchal: No. OKC set a precedent when they retired Collison’s jersey. A player’s stats don’t matter nearly as much as what they represent. Collison embodied everything good about OKC fans and the Thunder organization… KD does not. The next jersey retired by OKC should be Westbrook’s.
D. Brandon: They should. Regardless of anyone’s feelings on the matter, he was an integral part of the Thunder’s golden years, and by rights his name should be up there. Now the when of that is probably a little trickier. I think there’s still far too much bad blood and will be for a long time. It may be well after his playing career.
Elrod: The Thunder should retire his jersey for the impact he made on the franchise on and off the court. I have as many issues with what Kevin has said about the organization since he left as everyone else but his contributions to the organization cannot be forgotten. He’s one of the best players of this generation and, along with Westbrook, made Oklahoma City basketball relevant.
How about re-signing him in his twilight years, should he want to come back?
B. Rahbar: If KD desires to come back, I would assume he has changed his feelings about the city and organization. There would have been some reconciliation on both sides, along with shared apologies and forgiveness for burned bridges. In that scenario, I’m a softie and would welcome the big lug back with open arms.
O. Panchal: Before the WSJ article, it was a possibility. But now, he’s on record saying he hates OKC fans and the OKC front office. Pretty hard to come back after that.
D. Brandon: It’d have to be a Vince Carter-type situation for burying the hatchet, where it’s been long enough that a whole generation of fans has more or less turned over. Carter’s slowly getting back to good terms with Toronto and I think KD will eventually get back to some level of detente with OKC, but it’d have to be pretty late in the peace.
Elrod: He should want to come back. Despite what he’s said, the Thunder as an organization hasn’t done anything to slander his name or diminish his accomplishments with the franchise. The Thunder hasn’t burned any bridges, Durant has.
Years from now, how do you think he will be remembered by Thunder fans?
B. Rahbar: After the dust settles on this era of Thunder basketball, I do think that a lot of those wonderful feelings that KD provided OKC fans on and off the court will start to resurface. The wounds are relatively fresh and keep getting salt poured on them every time KD opens his mouth or his Twitter feed. But time heals all wounds. Regardless of what we think of him at the moment, the man put OKC on the map, supported the community with his wallet and his time, and filled our memory banks with a decade’s worth of thrilling and beautiful basketball.
O. Panchal: KD made a decision that he knew would upset a lot of people. But instead of owning it, he acts like he’s surprised OKC fans don’t love him. It didn’t have to be this way and I think KD will regret a lot of things he’s said— especially what he said about OKC fans. That being said, I hope Thunder fans will remember the good parts too: his MVP season, the “falling out of bounds” shot, our first Finals run, his 50-40-90 season, etc. KD was a key part of the best years of OKC basketball.
D. Brandon: With mixed feelings. He was a great player for the team, but he was also the one who kind of ripped a lot of naiveté away from the fanbase and left a pretty big wound. People thought he was something it turned out he wasn’t. He has a part to play in that. So does the organization. So does the fanbase. I honestly don’t know. I think after another generation has come, they’ll look back with a little nostalgia, especially if the Thunder are bad for a while. But among the diehards I think there’s always going to be some bitterness.
Elrod: Unless he somehow comes back and wins a title for Oklahoma City, I don’t see it being different than how he is being remembered now. Like I said earlier, I think he’s burned the bridge between him and Thunder fans with his most recent comments. People may have given him the benefit of the doubt in the past but they’ve most certainly changed course now. Maybe a few fans will forgive him and remember all the positive things he did for the city, but I don’t expect there to be many.
How will he be remembered by NBA fans in general?
B. Rahbar: KD will be remembered as a generational, all-time talent on the basketball court and a generational, all-time cupcake off the court.
O. Panchal: The year is 2027. KD has now played for every team in the NBA and alienated every single fan base. Even Bill Russell hates him.
D. Brandon: Look, he’s one of the greatest scorers to ever live, and aside from just being a bit of an odd dude who seems to be trying to find himself, he’s not a bad human being. His legacy’s going to be intact no matter what he does. The Achilles injury will affect this, though. It’ll probably hurt him in his quest for the all-time leaderboards, and right as he’s in his prime. It may also shorten his longevity. Whatever happens, though, he’s cemented a place among the greats of the league.
Elrod: Durant will retire as one of the most polarizing players of this decade. He has all the accomplishments of one of the best players in history, but some people will have an asterisk next to his championships won with Golden State. Eventually, time heals all wounds. NBA fans will push aside their bias against a player and recognize Durant’s place among the greats. Many controversial players like Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone are still recognized among fans as all-time greats. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be overshadowed by LeBron James and Stephen Curry among his generation’s best.