This is an open letter from an emotional Thunder fan. I do not usually do this but I feel like I have so many feelings and need to get them out somehow; so this is me processing. As a kid I grew up loving sports but never really got into the NBA. During playoff runs I would watch the Pistons but, I was always more of a college guy. I grew up loving Michigan State and watched every basketball game. Early on in the 2006-2007 year Michigan State played Texas and as I was watching the game I fell in love with Kevin Durant. I loved the way he played, obviously, and the way he carried himself on the court as well. I began to follow his career, and he quickly became my favorite player to watch.
He was drafted in 2007 by the Seattle Supersonics and I fell in love. Sure they weren’t great that first year but I felt like I finally enjoyed watching basketball as he played. It was my team. After the season they drafted Russell Westbrook, a wild little guard who bounced all over the place! Our point guard! The following year James Harden, I must admit I wanted Rubio but man I liked Harden too.
As the team continued to play together I felt more and more an emotional connection. I usually tell people I can’t even call myself a fan, because when it comes to Thunder Basketball, no logic makes sense, instead of fandom I call it being straight up delusional.
The team ascended quicker than I could ever hope. As a sophomore in college I remember going crazy in the dining hall during games 3 and 4 of the 1st round series against the Lakers. People were confused but hey, this was my team. The next year the western conference finals, the following year the finals. I even watched game 6 against the Spurs while I was on my honeymoon in Jamaica (I still get slack from my wife on this). This team was so fun, a blast to watch. It gave me a reason to enjoy the NBA and the main reason was Kevin.
Obviously I fell in love with the whole team and everything but it was always the man Kevin was and the player he was that had me so infatuated with this team and organization. I loved his answers to questions, his love for the game, and like I said the thing that drew me to him in the first place the way he carried himself. I ended up buying different memorabilia, from jerseys to random bobble heads, to socks, and shoes, I even have a random ceramic of Kevin sitting on a toilet (has to be one of a kind) that I found while in China.
There have been bumps and bruises along the way, whether the Harden trade, Reggie Jackson, Scotty Brooks, the foot injury, lots of badly timed injuries, and many more but, more than anything I feel like I have grown with this team. This is what makes what happened yesterday so hard.
Since Sunday night I couldn’t think I couldn’t eat I couldn’t sleep because the reality of the franchise was in flux. When I read the letter he wrote and it said that he would be joining the Golden State Warriors, my heart sunk. I couldn’t believe it. Sure I thought this was a possibility and that there was a chance that he would leave, but I never actually thought it would happen. I never even thought what this team would look like without Kevin lacing up for us. All these emotions hit me like a freight train, the player that made me fall in love with the NBA had left my team for not just another team, but the team that in my opinion we were 1a 1b contenders with. I thought it would get better as they day wore on but it didn’t. The reality of him not playing on my team crushed me what seemed like more and more. It just doesn’t seem like something the Kevin that I know would do. Sure I don’t personally know him, only a lot about him, but in a lot of ways I’m left confused. But there are some things that I will never know. To be clear this is nothing against his character, he’s a first class athlete and human being, and like he said, it’s strictly a basketball decision.
I do understand the move from a basketball perspective, I also try and stack my team when I go to the gym and play pick up ball. No one likes to lose, but it just feels so personal to me, to my situation. After watching the Western Conference Finals I do not believe the Golden State Warriors were better than the Thunder, though an argument could be made both ways. However, the Golden State Warriors with Kevin Durant on the team are without a question better than the Thunder with Durant on the team. This makes sense, if it’s about rings I get it, win as many as you can.
But here’s where my delusion I guess creeps in. What he has done will probably get him a few rings, potentially as many as 5 or more. But there is a difference between the amount of rings you have and the legacy you leave. I think a lot of examples have been brought up but here’s one I think applies, Scottie Pippen won 6 rings as a man on the Chicago Bulls. Dirk Nowitzki won 1 ring for the Dallas Mavericks. Both players have real claims to fame, but one of these men left a different legacy on a city and a team than the other. Sure Dirk only won one ring but when he retires his number is going in the rafters, he’ll probably get his own statue outside of the American Airlines Center. Man I would have loved to see a statue of Kevin Durant someday in front of the Peake. The greatness of a career is not solely determined by rings, it’s the legacy you leave a place with as well. I know that both these are important to Kevin.
In conclusion, I may sound like I’m salty or bitter, and I can say honestly I’m not. I got to enjoy 9 great years watching Kevin and being a fan of the team he played on. I will miss him and am definitely emotional but that’s what being a fan is. I’m thankful for the memories, for the highs the lows and giving it all we had every year to try and win a championship. Kevin, you made basketball and specifically the NBA fun for me, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I will still watch you, cheer for you, but I will miss watching you play for my team, and cheering for you on my team, and most of all just having you on my team.
I still wish to meet you one day Kevin, you’re a great basketball player and an even better person. Thank you for who you are, who you’ve become, and for causing a man like me to fall in love with a team from Oklahoma City. The delusion for the Thunder won’t stop here and I am excited for the next chapter of Thunder basketball. Kevin you’ll always have a special place in my heart. Thanks for letting me vent.