For months now people have been speculating about the free agent class’s of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Everyone wants to know if Kevin Love is really going to go to the Lakers? If LeBron is going to opt out in Mia? And if Durant and Westbrook are going to leave OKC? The Kevin Durant question, to me, feels both the most interesting and yet the most easily answerable. He’s not leaving OKC. However, some of my favorite analysts, from Zach Lowe to Jalen Rose to Bill Simmons (yes I’m a Grantland Homer), all have different theories on where he’s going; and none of those theories seem to involve him staying in Oklahoma City. I’m not saying that they definitely say he’s leaving, but they don’t seem to say with authority that he’s staying. Before I go into the subject further, I want everyone to watch this clip from KD’s MVP speech.
Did you watch it? Did you see the emotion KD showed? Did you see how he went teammate by teammate and spoke on how much each of them meant to him? He genuinely loves them each as a brother. I really believe that. Now do you think he’s really leaving them for any reason? No. Absolutely not.
I know that many will say that his partnership with Russell Westbrook is to the detriment of his game, and he even admits that it can be infuriating. However, they are truly best friends. Maybe even more so than LeBron and Wade. They would run through brick walls for each other, and there is nothing the one wouldn’t sacrifice for the other. Loyalty seems almost more important to KD than winning. I think that’s why the Harden trade was so hard for KD. Even if KD could guarantee himself a championship by leaving Westbrook, I don’t think he’d see it as fulfilling unless he did it with his brother. He wants to win it with his boy.
KD is also not LeBron James. Not that being LeBron is a bad thing, they are just different. LeBron, for whatever reason, clearly wants the world to love him. KD just wants his teammates and his family to love him. I think this familial quality plays perfectly in a small town like Oklahoma City. It allows him to focus only on the people that matter to him, and playing ball. That’s it. He’s going to make $200m in his career even if he stays in OKC, he may make $250 if he goes to LA. But at what personal cost will that extra $50m come at? He doesn’t want to buy a title or build a brand, KD wants to win with the people who got him here. He wants to win it with OKC.
Lastly, let’s just remember something. KD is the ultimate hoop head. He’s known for hopping off the plane on every road trip, finding a local gym, and just shooting for hours. In the summers he travels the country, even NYC, without an entourage, playing in whatever the best pickup game is he can find. He does all of this, without cameras and without a KD app to follow his every movement. You know what that means? He knows a court is the same size in every city. All he needs is a court, a ball, and some run. When he’s not playing, he just needs his church, his fam, and his bros. He can have all of that in OKC.
I could always be wrong, and I am a lot, but if you asked me to bet money on where KD and Westbrook go.. I’m telling you they are staying put. They are going to play together and they are going to play in OKC. I’m sorry, but I’ve watched that speech 3 times now, and KD is just not leaving them behind. He’s only 25, but he’s already figured out that it’ll never be the same if he wins the title anywhere but where he came into the league. KD is staying in OKC because he wants to lead his team, and his city to something they just can’t do without him. KD wants to be the brother everyone in OKC is to him.