Kevin Durant’s stint with the Golden State Warriors was undoubtedly welcomed as he helped bring home a pair of championships, but is it enough to retire his jersey?
After their heartbreaking defeat in the infamous 2016 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors were devastated.
They capped off the best regular season in NBA history with a 73-9 regular-season record by blowing a three-games-to-one lead in the NBA Finals and ultimately losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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This devastation did not last long, however, when word got out that superstar forward Kevin Durant was headed to Golden State in a shocking turn of events.
The move stunned the basketball world as a former league MVP was going to join a team that went 73-9 the year prior and finished one game short of securing their second straight championship.
The addition of Durant set Golden State up to become the NBA’s next dynasty, and although it was short, the team had a fantastic run over the course of three years.
In his first year with the Warriors, Durant elevated this team to a level near unbeatable. Led by the 2014 MVP, Golden State cruised to their second championship of the decade with a historical run as they only lost one game throughout the entire postseason.
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Durant was awarded his first-ever Finals MVP for his heroic efforts, and rightfully so as he averaged 35.2 points, 8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists throughout five games.
It was more of the same for Golden State the following season as they won another title, and Durant won back to back Finals MVP’s. Throughout four games, Durant averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game as Golden State swept the Cavaliers.
At this point, Golden State was up there with some of the NBA’s best teams ever. Every single time they stepped on the court in the postseason, everyone knew they were going to come out of that series victorious.
The only thing that could stop the Warriors was themselves, and unfortunately, that is precisely what happened.
In his third year with the Warriors, Durant’s trip to the postseason looked far different than the previous two. The forward averaged an astonishing 32.2 points per game but only played in 12 games as he battled injury, even missing the entirety of the Western Conference Finals.
Still, Golden State made it into the Finals and would face a new opponent, the Toronto Raptors. With Durant still battling injury, it was unclear if he would see any action in the series at all, but made his return to the lineup in Game 5 after missing the previous nine games straight.
Durant made an immediate impact in the game as he scored 11 points in 12 minutes before disaster struck. The forward ruptured his Achilles in which would ultimately be his last game ever in a Warriors uniform as the team lost the series.
So, with a resume consisting of a postseason scoring average of 29.9 points per game, two championships, and two Finals MVP’s, should the Golden State Warriors send Kevin Durant’s No. 35 into the rafters forever?
The Warriors were stellar before the addition of Durant, but as soon as they signed him, the rest of the league knew they were in trouble. The forward elevated them to become one of the best teams in NBA history, and who knows if they would have those rings without him.
Soon after Durant retires, the Warriors will raise the two-time Finals MVP’s jersey into the rafters and immortalize his name among the greats forever.
Golden State’s CEO and Co-Chairman Joe Lacob gave a heartfelt message to Durant after his departure in the summer, closing it off with, “As long as I am CO-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear No. 35 for the Warriors again.”
After everything Kevin Durant provided for the team over those three years, retiring his jersey is undoubtedly the right decision.