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What Kevin Durant Told Warriors In 2016 Meeting That Changed NBA History: "You All Just Came Off Of A Championship The Year Before And Lost In Game 7, Why Do You Want Me On The Team?"

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors really changed the course of the NBA five years ago when they joined forces after a couple of years of going at it in the playoffs. The Warriors had already won one championship in two trips to the Finals thanks to their Big 3 but they decided to make a run for Kevin Durant and the player liked what they offered.

That was a very controversial moment and people still remember and question KD for joining the team that beat him the prior season but the player wasn't paying much attention to that. Three years after that move, he was a two-time NBA champion, winning two Finals MVP and leading the team to do impressive things on the court. That move was so important for the league that five years after that, we are still learning details of how things went down.

Tim Kawakami of The Athletic recently wrote a piece where he remembered this free agency and how the Warriors managed to attract KD to sign with them after years of being big rivals. It all started with Klay Thompson going early to the Hamptons and getting very comfortable before the rest of the recruiting team arrived.

Back in the summer of 2016, Thompson arrived before Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and everybody else to set the scene for the most important free-agent meetings in recent NBA history, though, in retrospect it mostly sounds just like a normal Klay vacation.

The other NBA Avengers were still assembling in the Bay Area and Durant had one last meeting in Oklahoma City, but Thompson was already at the Hamptons, had grabbed the best bedroom in the Warriors’ temporary headquarters, and, no shock, Thompson was already having a helluva time.

“I got there a day early,” Thompson recalled recently with a chuckle. “Got to the beach. I was (in New York City) for Team USA Basketball, so I had a couple days. Just enjoying vacation. It was nice out there, man.”

So, how this whole thing ended up coming together for the Dubs? They had a well-structured plan and not even Klay having a lot of fun damaged that. They were on a mission and when go-time arrived, they were ready to act.

The main characters of this drama were set: Durant invited the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics for meetings at the Hamptons over a few days, and promised one last meeting with the Thunder.

The Warriors got the first meeting because Myers called first, and everybody with the Warriors knew what their main pitch was going to be: Bring their four top players to the Hamptons to show Durant what he could be joining.

The team wanted to look like they were as united as they could and they all arrived together to meet KD and his team, which was fascinated by that.

The Warriors’ contingent all piled into a minibus together — the two Lacobs, Myers, Kerr, Curry, Green, Iguodala and Thompson. Did they want Durant and his representatives to see them all arriving as a single unit? Absolutely.

Durant: I knew all four (Warriors players) were coming. But you never know, a guy might get in some traveling troubles, airplane troubles, something might’ve come up. So I knew they were coming, but I wasn’t expecting it. … I was just like, whatever happens, I want to talk to at least a couple guys and to Bob and Steve.

But when they all showed up, it was pretty cool. It was pretty cool from a basketball standpoint that they respected my game.

Everybody was in the same car. Joe, Steve, Bob, Draymond, Klay, Steph, Andre, Kirk Lacob. I was like, man, this already looks like a family. I want to be a part of it. I was excited about that.

After they made a good first impression with the 2014 NBA MVP, the Dubs proceeded to make their presentation, although things were about to go wrong.

Once the Warriors group arrived, they got right down to it, offering a few short presentations and then answering questions from Durant, Durant’s father Wayne Pratt, Kleiman and other members of Durant’s advisory group.

There are conflicting reports about a virtual reality presentation that either worked briefly, or didn’t work out, which helped add levity to the situation.

Draymond Green: I remember Kirk Lacob tried to show this virtual reality thing from the beginning, and we’re like, naw, we can come back to that later.

Steve Kerr: We had a couple things planned, a presentation, I had some offensive clips I wanted to show how KD was going to fit in.

I just clipped like 20 things and told him how I thought he’d fit. Not necessarily Harrison (Barnes, whom Durant would be replacing). It was also, we could put you in this spot — this is what Steph’s doing, but we could put you in that spot.

I think he liked it. He’s a basketball junkie. So he enjoyed the strategic angle. But the biggest thing was just sitting with those four guys outside.

It just became, all right, enough of that. Let’s get to the real reason why we’re here. I think Rich asked Steph, why do you want Kevin next to you? You’re the man, why do you want this? And it just became direct. It was instant communication.

Durant had a series of questions and the Warriors were ready for everything. They wanted to hear and respond to all his questions.

Durant: My first question was, you all just came off of a championship the year before and lost in Game 7, why do you want me on the team?

And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. It was just like, why wouldn’t we? This would be super special. I’m like, I want to be part of something super, super special. It was just perfect. Everybody was just thinking the same way I was. Just no egos.

So why was it so significant to Durant — a former MVP, someone who was already on a Hall of Fame path — to see the four Warriors players come together for this, just a few weeks after the Warriors had beaten his Thunder in a ferocious seven-game series?

Durant: This might sound like a deep answer, but I hope you get it.

At that time in my career, I didn’t know how other people felt about my game. And I knew that I was pretty damn good and I knew I worked extremely hard, but I needed that validation from my peers and teams and GMs, people that are really into the game, to really help me feel good about myself and help me feel confident and let me know that what I was doing was working.

So when they all came, and they all put stuff to the side to come to the meeting, I was like, man, this is amazing. Best team in the league, some of the best players, most accomplished players want me on their team and want what I do, what I bring to the table. It was pretty cool, you know what I’m saying?

Because I’m looking at this whole basketball thing from a kid’s perspective. I’m still excited, I’m still learning. So to have that much love in the room for how I play basketball, that’s cool. They’ll get to know me as a person, I was confident with that. But the basketball side, I was, like, man it’s pretty damn cool that people enjoy the way I play and want me to play with them.

Durant says he was already pretty much convinced before he and the four Warriors stalwarts went off to talk in the grove area in the house’s backyard.

Durant: At that point I’m just like, this is where I want to be, anyway. I just wanted to meet with them. I wanted to meet and see if this is where I really want to play.

So as soon as I sat down, had the first conversation, no small talk, straight to it, I’m like, this is where I need to go. And everything else was the cherry on top. I was already sold when they walked in.

But before the players went off on their own, Durant asked the question everybody was waiting for — why did Curry, who probably had the most to lose, want him to join the Warriors?

Steph revealed that he felt Durant was a very good fit for the Warriors and their culture and that was more than enough for then-reigning NBA MVP.

Stephen Curry: I honestly don’t remember (that exact moment). It’s a blur, because we were in the room together, then we were out, just the players. I honestly don’t remember.

I just knew he was going to ask that question. It was more so, we have a very dope chemistry on our team and he’s a guy, based on my experience playing against him and playing with him on Team USA stuff, that he would fit right in from a culture standpoint.

And that it wasn’t really about pissing contests. At the end of the day, if you want to play for a great team and have fun playing basketball, this would be a great place for you.

It was about basketball, but it was also about branding, too. Curry is Under Armour’s signature endorser, while Durant is a Nike headliner.

At that moment, KD was very interesting in the project and you could say he was already sold on the idea of playing with these three monsters. He wanted to bring that extra that the Dubs needed to reach the next level and become nearly-unbeatable.

Durant: I wanted to come in and add value. Add value by how I work. I wanted to showcase the type of teammate I was. I wanted to see how I could come in and serve and still be who I am at the same time. I just wanted to know — what kind of group it is, what is it like in shootarounds? Who’s the most vocal guy?

I was just trying to ask so many questions because this is the place where I wanted to be and I wanted to be 100 percent sure I was right about where I needed to be.

It wasn't an easy decision to communicate to the rest of the people, but KD was sure that the Bay was the place where he wanted to be and once he was convinced about his call, there was no stopping for him.

Durant: I was just figuring out how I’m going to finally break it down to people that I’ve spent so much time with that this was the place I wanted to play. That was the hardest part.

That was my first meeting and the whole time I was like, I need to finish the process, but I know where I want to be. So I’ve just got to make sure that I make the right decision. Because I could’ve easily just said, “Naw, I don’t want to disappoint nobody, I just might go back.”

But in all actuality, I just wanted to play here.

In the end, these four guys went to win two NBA championships in three straight trips to the NBA Finals. A lot of people believe they could have three-peated if KD and Klay didn't go down with an injury during the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Durant left the organization after that series amid controversy but there is no doubt that he enjoyed his time in Oakland and has a lot to thank the Warriors. He took his game to the next level during that time and the Dubs were at the top of the world with Durant.