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Durant’s career will never get respect after joining Warriors

Kevin Durant prepares for game with Golden State Warriors (Photo by Derrel Johnson for Steed Media Service)

Kevin Durant prepares for game with Golden State Warriors (Photo by Derrel Johnson for Steed Media Service)

It still doesn’t feel good enough. Star forward Kevin Durant clinched his second career trip to the NBA Finals when the Golden State Warriors defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, 129-115. Durant’s Warriors are the first team in NBA history to go into the finals with a 12-0 postseason record since the league made all rounds in the form of best-of seven’s in 2003.

It still just doesn’t feel good enough.

Durant led the Warriors with 12 rebounds and was also the team’s second-leading scorer with 29 points.

It still just doesn’t feel good enough for the masses that follow basketball. It does feel right to Durant and the Warriors, though.

“I made the 100 percent right decision, win or lose,” Durant said in regards to joining the Western Conference’s best team last summer, as first reported by The Undefeated. “I appreciate everything I’ve done before this, but I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be.”

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound veteran maneuvered around the court in ways never seen before by a player of his size. Durant is carrying career averages of 27.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a game in his 10th season.

“You add [an] MVP. One of the best players we’ve ever seen play this game to a team that won 73 games and was a shot away [from winning last year’s championship],” Warriors forward Draymond Green said in a postgame interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke. “That makes a damn good team. Kevin has shown his worth to us in games we might’ve lost last year throughout these playoffs.”

Durant went the path many Hall of Famers that came before him perhaps pondered but didn’t choose. Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, and Reggie Miller are three legends that stayed with their teams, amid the rumors to join other squads and win a championship in their primes.The results? Ewing is still considered one of the greatest Knicks to have ever donned the uniform, Iverson is widely regarded as the greatest player in league history to stand 6 foot flat or under and Miller is still known for being one the greatest 3-point shooters of all time.

In the debates of greatest players of all time in the decades to come, regardless of how the decision feels today, Durant’s move to the Warriors puts an asterisk next to his number of championships. Some of the greats had considerable help to get them the number of championships they ended their careers with. Magic Johnson had the league’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, as his center. Michael Jordan had the top-25 rebounder of all time in Dennis Rodman and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Scottie Pippen.

By the same token, however, in Oklahoma City Durant had one of the top five active players in the world with Russell Westbrook as his point guard. A few years before that, he also had another current MVP candidate and then-Sixth Man of the Year James Harden. Durant could never break through to make the finals since that 2012 season, but he was only one win away from returning in 2016. Around this time last year was when Durant and Oklahoma City blew a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to his current team, the Golden State Warriors.The one game difference gives rise to the “what if” theories. What if Durant would’ve signed just one more season to try to take down the mighty Warriors and get another shot at LeBron James in the finals? But once again, the same “so close” narrative could be used in the cases of Ewing, Iverson and Miller. All three Hall of Famers made a finals appearance and later came threatening for another one with trips to conference finals. None of the three broke through to win the coveted title, thus spawning the “what if” scenarios after their careers. What if they joined another team in the peak of their battles against giants, as Miller himself once referred to it?

Durant took the uncertainty of winning a championship during his prime into his own hands, but with the “what if” comes with an asterisk.