Stephen A: KD’s failures ‘self-inflicted’ by leaving Steph, Warriors

Stephen A: KD’s failures ‘self-inflicted’ by leaving Steph, Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The last time Kevin Durant appeared in the NBA Finals to contend for a championship, he was a member of the Warriors.

That was five seasons and three teams ago, and the ongoing conversation surrounding his NBA legacy since leaving Golden State has resurfaced after Durant’s Phoenix Suns got swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Durant’s disappointing playoff exit was a hot topic on NBA social media and sports shows Monday morning, with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith stating he sensed it coming from a mile away.

“I warned him. I warned everybody that loves Kevin Durant,” Smith said Monday on “First Take.” “I love Kevin Durant. I said, ‘Yo, he’s a two-time champion. He’s a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. One of the greatest offensive players we have ever seen, and it ain’t like he didn’t show up. But the bottom line is this: You left Steph Curry to join Kyrie Irving. You departed from Brooklyn to go to Phoenix. The situation was self-inflicted, and that — especially when you go out like this — is going to be as, if not more, remembered than the titles that you won with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

“I’m not saying it’s fair. I’m not saying it’s right, but I told folks who will remain nameless that really, really were upset with me because of it, I said this is what’s going to happen when you have a great player like that that’s going to watch the playoffs with the rest of us. He’s not going to get the sympathy from the basketball Gods. He’s just not.”

With Curry in the Bay, Durant and the Warriors made three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won two titles together — the first of his career.

After tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals, Durant departed from the Bay to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn with the Nets. He sat out the entire 2019-20 season but after playing two full seasons with the Nets, he was sent to Phoenix in a blockbuster trade that at the time was expected to reshape the power structure in the league.

Instead, Durant and the Suns have yet to get past the second round of the playoffs, and despite acquiring Bradley Beal last offseason, Phoenix couldn’t get one playoff win this postseason.

Even though the Warriors’ core of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green won their fourth title during the 2022 NBA Finals — without Durant — ESPN analyst Alan Hahn shared a unique take as to how the parting played a role in both Durant’s failures and the Warriors’ dynasty coming to an end.

“NBA Twitter is what killed the Golden State Warriors dynasty, because Kevin Durant paid too much attention to what was being said about him and how it’s Steph Curry’s team and how you’re ring chasing,” Hahn said Monday on “Get Up.” “He paid way too much attention to that rather than just staying there where he was a great fit and they could’ve continued to win championships.

“That didn’t happen because he heard all that stuff and said, ‘I got to go somewhere else and do my own thing.’ And that somewhere else was — it was a failure in Brooklyn and now it looks like a failure in Phoenix. He should have stayed where he was, but he listened too much to NBA Twitter.”

Durant’s legacy has been questioned since leaving Golden State in 2019, and it doesn’t appear that the conversation will be ending any time soon.

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