After years of a seemingly loving basketball paradise of wonderful culture, it felt like a seismic breaking point had been reached with the Warriors in a disappointing overtime loss against the Clippers. After a clumsy fast break that ended in a Draymond Green turnover to push the game into extra time, Durant curiously sits on the bench to simply wait for overtime and the proceeding exchange between Green and Durant rattled the entire state of the current NBA. Nailing Durant with expletives and calling out his admittedly questionable loyalty, Green did not hold back with slamming Durant for potentially leaving in his upcoming free agency.
With this distraction and a hot Lou Williams, the Warriors obviously dropped this one. But, for some, this loss comes with a far more costly price-their entire future. That particular insult cuts a little deeper with the already-anxious fans as if this indicates an underlying rumbling that will inevitably lead to an explosive fallout during free agency. With both Durant and Klay Thompson having the prospect of free agency, culture shattering causes both of them to walk. Considering Durant’s free agency habits and really needy personality, the idea of him walking pre-Clippers already seemed like a possibility. And on such a routine and asinine play, this much emotion bubbling over feels indicative of deeper concerns.
Breaking this play down further, Green grabs the rebound with five and a half seconds remaining and instinctively charges it up the court. Durant, though fully covered, claps for the ball but doesn’t receive it. After a failed pass attempt and subsequently getting tripped up, Green turns it over and the buzzer blares. With such little time remaining, he had no choice but to push the ball himself. Anteriorly, Durant waiting to catch the pass and take the ball himself would’ve resulted in a thirty-five-foot game-winner, a play that likely would’ve been equally successful. As Durant effectively ran the offense for the last five minutes, this call for the ball doesn’t come across as too nonsensical.
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But the ensuing exchange rocks the perception of the Warriors deeply. According to multiple reports, the locker room grew even more toxic, with every player bickering amongst themselves with Durant sitting by his locker in dead angry silence. Though Klay Thompson played peacemaker, the legendarily positive chemistry completely shriveled up for a furious arguing. Postgame interviews dripped in hurt feelings and when asked if the friendship between Green and Durant had been fixed, Durant responded with a solemn “Nah”.
Though teammates downplayed it just a tad, with Thompson claiming once the wins flow in, this situation will “be in the past…Like a ponytail.” Cute, but the exchange will reverberate and make media rounds until Durant’s decision. But an ignition like this doesn’t show necessarily a divide in the locker room-it shows the tight bond between the players starting to strain as Durant’s free agency draws ever closer.
Growing so close to one another only fostered the bitter betrayal that will reverberate through the franchise if so Durant were to leave. And as a bit of a well-documented drama queen, Durant has kept this storyline buzzing with no definitive answers. As a passionate player who lets his emotions loose, it honestly could’ve been a matter of time until Green went off on the diva-ish habits of Durant, from a place of being hurt, not of hatred. The mesh only works in pure basketball terms but not so much personality-wise.
And now factor in the situation. Getting pushed to overtime by an inferior opponent already comes off as intensely disheartening and then mix in Durant’s selfish calling for the ball combined with the frustrating lack of answers with said player’s upcoming free agency (also, the pressure of four straight Finals appearances can’t be discredited) , it’s fair to reason an uncontrollably passionate player like Green would lose his cool under these set of circumstances. Green obviously crossed a line but the exchange doesn’t feel entirely out of line.
But it may not have mattered whether or not this fiasco happened or not, Durant probably had leaving in mind ever since he signed the dotted line. Never swearing his faith to the Warriors, as he did during his contract year with the Thunder, he found what he wanted with the Warriors. He won his ring, solidified himself as a top five small forward of all time, and he intentionally kept the contracts short to ensure he has the freedom to leave for a legacy points team or purely to expand his brand. It may be shameful but still an undeniably intelligent business move.
And after winning seventy-three games and winning a Finals sans Durant, the Warriors probably don’t even need him either. His presence only pushes the Warriors from title locks to one of the most talented sports franchise of all time. And if the often forgotten Demarcus Cousins sticks around for longer than this season, the Warriors’ unparalleled dominance will remain untouched. Until the rest of the core crumbles, the Warriors won’t be beaten. Though a Durant-less Warriors often gets seen as crushingly inferior, most forget Durant doesn’t make this team hum. With three All-Stars, an MVP, and a Defensive Player of the Year, even without Cousins, the Warriors never needed Durant in the first place.
Besides, the very next time both Green and Durant stepped onto the court, they connected on multiple passes on fast breaks for easy dunks, dapping it up like professional teammates. And that sums this fiasco up well. Emotions ran high in a frustrating situation between two ends of the intensity spectrum, leading to a blowout. Similarly to two brothers fistfighting over a girl at prom, the burst festered from seemingly asinine details and a single catalyst branching from betrayal and hurt. The bond remains but the Warriors are still winning the Finals. Even after Durant leaves.