I know it's not too common, these days, but the old saying, "money ain't everything," means something to Kevin Durant. Recently, Kevin spoke on Western Conference opponent, David West, and his decision on taking a hefty pay cut to play for a contender rather than choosing more money. “I respect it,” Durant said. “Money isn’t everything in this life. I know we tend to think about taking care of your family, being financially stable. But from the outside looking in, it looks like he said, ‘Well, I’ve been blessed to make X amount and I’ll be chasing something that’s the grand prize in this league.’ So I respect him for it. A lot of guys wouldn’t have done it.”
Beginning July 1st, Durant is expected to explore his options, when the NBA Free Agency Period opens. Los Angeles, Golden State, Boston, Washington, as well as other teams have been rumored to be on his radar, but don't be surprised if Durant opts to stay in his second-home of Oklahoma City, instead.
Since bursting into NBA superstardom, Durant has been refreshing for many fans. For one, we've never seen a 7-footer (yes, I'm aware that he is listed as 6'9", but let's be real) with the ball-handling and shooting skills of an elite guard. But also, for one to be considered one of the game's best players, he is as humble as your last guy on the bench.
Kevin Durant is 'genuine', 'real', and as someone that has met Durant on numerous occasions, at local gyms in our hometown of Prince George's County, Maryland, even if you don't know him, personally, his personality is always warm and makes you feel comfortable and relatable. My fellow DMV residents could attest to that. And a feeling like that from a superstar is as rare as his talent.
In 2007, Kevin Durant was drafted to the Seattle Supersonics, and after his rookie season, the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City, rebranding itself as the 'Thunder'. The city of Oklahoma City is a mirrored image of Durant, himself, ironically. Residents are mostly blue-collar, hardworking, and humble. But, the 'Thunder' reflects his partner-in-crime, Russell Westbrook.
Since 2008, Kevin and Russell have formed a brotherhood. We've seen them grow from just two hungry young guys, to superstars in the game, all side-by-side. From the 2012 Finals run to injuries and missed playoffs to their late-game battles over the last shot, we have witnessed it all.
When Durant won the 2014 NBA MVP Award, he gave a legendary speech. It soon flooded the internet and social media with "You the real MVP," memes. But for a small chunk of his lengthy, heartfelt speech, he spoke on Russell Westbrook.
"I know you guys think I forgot Russ, but I can speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who will run through a wall for me. I don't take it for granted. There's days where I want to just talk with you and tell you to snap out of it sometimes, but I know there's days where you want to do the same thing with me. I love you, man. I love you. A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player, and I'm the first to have your back, through it all. Just stay the person you are, everybody loves you here. I love you. I thank you so much, man. You made me better. Your work ethic, I always wanted to compete with you. I always wanted to pull up to the parking lot of the arena or practice facility, I always wanted to outwork you. You set the bar, you set the tone. Thank you so much, man. You got a big piece of this, you're an MVP-caliber player. It's a blessing to play with you, man. I thank all you guys. I know we have a bigger goal in mind, and we have a tough game tomorrow. But this means the world to me that you guys are here celebrating with me. Thank you, thank you, I can't express it enough."
In his speech, Kevin also expressed his love for the Oklahoma City fans. "We want to win a championship for you guys," Durant said. I believe that he truly does want to win a ring with the franchise, and wouldn't part ways with the organization if he did. The time is now. The Oklahoma City Thunder lead the San Antonio Spurs, 3-2, in the second round of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The Spurs were the second-best team, record-wise, in the regular season and were favored by many to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference title. But, in this series, the Durant-Westbrook duo has out-powered its opponent, and the Thunder look like the better team.
Oklahoma City could close out the series, tonight, at home, leaving only two foes left to defeat before capturing the franchise's first championship, since moving to Oklahoma.
It isn't everyday that a player can play with someone that he considers "a brother", and if that isn't enough to keep Kevin Durant, winning a championship definitely is. For Kevin, "Money isn't everything in this life," and quite frankly, the Thunder don't need the largest offer sheet to keep him.