Despite Kevin Durant reassuring Oklahoma City Thunder fans about his future with the franchise, never believe a professional athlete who professes complete loyalty to a team.
This is what Durant had to say in January when the Thunder came to play the Wizards in Washington, Durant’s hometown and the team most think Durant will bolt to in 2016 when he becomes a free agent.
I love playing for Oklahoma City, man. There’s just a certain level of pride that I have when I play with that Oklahoma City on my chest. So that’s the only thing I’m focused on. Everybody knows that I represent where I come from that no matter where I play at, no matter what arena. But I’m just focused on playing with Oklahoma City. It feels like home now. That’s where I am.
And this is what Durant had to say in a recent interview with Revolt TV.
I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don’t really think about anywhere else. I hear it all the time, don’t get me wrong, and once you hear it you’re kind of like… But for me, I love staying in the moment, and I’m one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career.
Kobe , Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki type. That’s awesome. But you never know what the future holds sometimes and how teams may feel about you after a while, but I love it here and I would love to get my jersey retired here.
It’s all nice and well. Durant started with the franchise in Seattle and moved on to Oklahoma City. He’d love to stay for the long run, win championships with the team, grow old together. But circumstances change. Opportunities come beckoning. At some point, this window the Thunder keep missing to win a title is going to close.
In 2016, things will be different. The cap situation might explode, and we might have a lockout (seems guaranteed at this point). The Thunder will be able to offer Durant more money than anyone else, but the final and most decisive factor in his decision could be his chances of winning an NBA championship. Maybe partnering with Russell Westbrook won’t sound so lucrative by then.
Shaquille O’Neal just saw his jersey being honored by the Orlando Magic. He didn’t play for them a lot – only four seasons. He didn’t leave on the best of terms. He won championships in Los Angeles and Miami. But memories fade. His words of regretting leaving the team don’t mean much today. He won four championships and an MVP by leaving.
Durant might be saying all the right things, but eventually, loyalty is worthless and meaningless in the NBA. It’s all about making the most money combined with maximizing the opportunity to win championships for most players. That formula, worked out in Duran’ts head, might not always result in staying with the Thunder, and there’s still time for him to change his mind.