When Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 off-season, he led to the formation of quite possibly the most unbeatable team in NBA history. For two years straight, the championship was a foregone conclusion and Durant hoisted the Finals MVP trophy on both those occasions. The Warriors would’ve won three in a row but they were without Durant’s services for all but 11 minutes of the NBA Finals and ended up losing 4-2 to the Toronto Raptors. In the ensuing free agency, Durant left the Warriors to sign with the Brooklyn Nets and brought the curtains down on the once-invincible Warriors dynasty.
However, a closer look at certain events during Durant’s Warriors tenure shows that Durant wasn’t really happy with his success, or at least not as happy as he expected to be. The hole that he wanted to fill with championship glory, was still there. In March 2018, after his first NBA Championship, Durant revealed this in the Bill Simmons Podcast: “People tell us we’re superstars, and we really aren’t … after we won the championship, I had Taco Bell and it ran through me just like it would a normal person. I’m like, ‘Oh sh–. I thought I had a golden stomach (joking). I thought I was immune to everything, but no.
“That’s the perception of it all — we’re just immortal. We’re normal fu**ing people who are really good at what we do. But at the end of the day, we go to sleep just like everybody else. We really put on our pants just like everybody else … it made me realize that I am not king anything because we won a championship.”
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also spoke about Durant’s situation with the Warriors on The Jump: “Normally you would think, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy just won two titles and two MVPs — this guy is locked up with us for life.’ And they were worried about it way back then, and as the season went along it only made it even worse.”
“I think even if he doesn’t get hurt, even if they win the title, I think there’s a good chance he was leaving. You never know for sure. The thing about the Warriors, they were very alarmed after winning two titles that Durant didn’t seem to have the joy.
“We knew he suffered the downsides of what it meant to come to the Warriors. When he took and raised that Bill Russell trophy twice — and didn’t have the joy — they were worried last summer.
After the Warriors’ second straight NBA title in 2018, there was a stark difference in Durant’s level of interest and work ethic within the team. ESPN‘s Zach Lowe wrote this about the Warriors – Durant situation before the start of the 2018-2019 season: “Both [Steve] Kerr and [Steve] Nash saw the drifting start over the summer, after Durant realized his first championship would not complete his life — or silence every critic. He didn’t work as often with Nash, or as productively, as planned.
“He didn’t have a great summer,” Nash says. “He was searching for what it all meant. He thought a championship would change everything, and found out it doesn’t. He was not fulfilled. He didn’t work out as much as he normally does.”