We know exactly how LeBron James felt after the 2016 Finals when the Cavaliers came back to win the championship after facing a 3-1 deficit. LeBron recently stated that he believed he was the greatest of all time the moment they defeated the Warriors in Game 7.
For Kevin Durant, he too had similar feelings about himself when he was able to beat LeBron in the 2017 Finals.
According to ‘The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss, Durant believed that the world would see him as the greatest player in the world by beating the Cavaliers and LeBron in the 2017 Finals.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 6, 2019
Some teammates believe that his biggest successes are indivisible from what currently ails. Or moreover, the reception of such successes. Sources say that Durant believed his besting of LeBron James in the 2017 Finals would get him hailed as the game’s top player, a mantle he’s craved for some time. While LeBron averaged a 33.6 point-per-game triple-double in that Finals, Durant was superior defensively and hit the series’ biggest shot right in the King’s face.
Instead, there was no grand reordering of rankings, and only so much credit to be had for a dominant playoff run. KD, who was “tired of being second” way back in 2013, was still stuck there reputationally, even in ultimate victory. He was still behind LeBron in the eyes of pundits, basketball Twitter, and perhaps most importantly, at Nike, who’s employed Durant longer than any team. Then, the next Finals unfolded in much the same way, with much the same result, all while Warriors fans cheered loudest for the smaller MVP’s baskets.
Unfortunately for KD, he never got out of LeBron’s shadow even after defeating him again in last years Finals and winning his second Finals MVP award. The reputation of Durant was if anything, tarnished since most fans were still upset that he would join the already overpowered Warriors just for the taste of success.
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 lead against the Warriors back in the 2016 Western Conference Finals which would be his last time wearing a Thunder jersey. For one of the greatest players in the league to leave his team for the one team in the Western Conference that were better than them is something that a lot of people can’t forget about.
It looks clear that Durant wants to earn respect back and be known as the greatest modern-day player. To achieve this, it’s more than likely that KD would have to leave the Bay and separate himself from players like Steph Curry if he is looking to earn back that respect.
This puts the two-time Finals MVP in an interesting position going into the offseason, he can stay with the Warriors and potentially win multiple more championships or he can leave and attempt to repair his legacy.