The fracture between the Golden State Warriors organization and Kevin Durant began to show when Durant went down with a calf injury during the postseason, triggering whispers from the Warriors that his rehab was taking too long. But according to reports coming out now that he’s officially gone, the very first cracks had developed long before that.
As Durant leaves the Warriors after three seasons and two rings, his beef with the organization can be traced back to the constant feeling of playing the little brother to Steph Curry in an apparent competition for the affection of Warriors fans. In a piece for The Undefeated, Marc Spears reports that Durant always felt like the “second fiddle” to the homegrown star.
While Durant’s shocking move to join the Warriors in 2016 quickly paid dividends for him — two straight championships and two Finals MVP awards — there was always the sense that the 10-time All-Star felt like a distant second fiddle to Stephen Curry. The love for Curry in the Bay Area certainly was understandable as he was a homegrown draft pick in 2009 and the face of the franchise. But perhaps it would have helped the Warriors’ cause if their fans showed more love and appreciation for Durant’s elite achievements. Instead, there was a perception that the world’s most talented basketball player just jumped onto the championship bandwagon.
Curry regularly received MVP chants from the Warriors crowd when he shot free throws, while that didn’t become commonplace for Durant until this past postseason. And while Curry and Durant always had strong respect for each other, some fans were unhappy a deserving Durant won Finals MVP twice over the more popular Curry.
That sort of thing sews resentment, and though Durant and Curry have reportedly always had a strong relationship, that difference in treatment, both by the fans and the organization, appears to have isolated Durant. After Durant returned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, only to go down with a ruptured Achilles, his frustration with the Warriors bubbled over.
“All that showed a lack of respect for one of the greatest players to put that uniform on and the fact that he took all that abuse and still put his career on the line to help them win,” a source told Spears.
Those are strong words from someone presumably in Durant’s camp. As Durant embarks on the next chapter of his career, choosing to play with a close friend in Kyrie Irving rather than take more money to stay and rehab in the Bay in a brand new arena, it’s clear his wounds are very much still open.