Take a look at the picture above, and try to familiarize yourself with how it looks. Still feels a little weird, right? Like a well-done-but-still-fantastical photoshop cooked up by a Warriors fan in the days right after Golden State lost the NBA Finals, only it’s fully real this time. Kevin Durant is officially a Warrior, as is made abundantly clear by him donning a blue and gold uniform on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.
Of more tangible interest, though, is the pull quote from Durant that SI puts on its cover. The exhaustive piece ESPN’s Royce Young published on Durant’s departure, which included minute details like Clay Bennett and Sam Presti staying at a Hamptons Holiday Inn during the recruitment process, is perhaps best remembered for this takedown of the 2014 MVP’s supposedly rash judgement.
But there was always concern that Durant would be persuaded — that outside forces would sway him. Those close to him talk about how he’s impressionable and impulsive, and the moment Durant agreed to meetings in the Hamptons, his future hung in the balance. In reality, he had one foot out the door.
It’s the tone of a jilted lover, which is not all that surprising considering Young’s sources for that specific passage were likely Thunder employees or people with a vested interest in the organization. But even though Durant almost certainly did heavily consider all his options, putting the “I went with my gut” line front and center immediately brings ESPN’s criticism to mind for anyone who read it. At the very least, it will be used as fodder if these Warriors somehow go wrong.