Franchise players typically aren’t on the move very often, hence the term “franchise player.” Any generational talent will likely be anchored to one location during the prime of their career, because that team realizes the gem that they’re lucky enough to possess.
Transcendent players rarely get traded while still in their prime, and perhaps even fewer change locales via free agency. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley are two legends who come to mind that were traded during their runs as superstars.
Moses Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James are probably the biggest free agents who’ve ever switched teams during the prime of their careers.
Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors this offseason fits into that category. It’s the type of monumental shift within the league that documentaries will be devoted to covering after enough time has passed to really reflect on how it altered the league landscape.
Tidbits of information are starting to leak out regarding how exactly the Warriors were able to acquire a player of Durant’s stature after so many within the basketball world assumed that it was nearly impossible that he’d leave the only franchise he had ever played for and had so much success with.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated has a great story about the role that Steve Nash played in the Durant signing.
Many people within the Warriors organization had a large part in making Durant feel comfortable enough to take the leap of faith that joining this squad was the right decision. Knowing of Durant’s impending free agency, Draymond Green stayed in communication with him throughout last season.
Stephen Curry assured Durant that he wasn’t the type of ego-driven alpha-dog to ever feel threatened by Durant stealing any glory once donning a Warriors’ jersey. It was truly all about winning, and having fun along the way.
Jerry West had a phone conversation with Durant that emphasized the tremendous success that the Warriors were capable of with Durant aboard, and relayed to him the pain of losing so many Finals appearances during the Logo’s own career. With the Warriors, maybe Durant wouldn’t have to go through the agony of coming so close to a title so many times. This team would be built to seal the deal.
Nash works for the Warriors as a player development consultant, and has deep connections to the current Warriors’ regime dating back to his days in Phoenix. Head coach Steve Kerr was the general manager in Phoenix, Team President and Chief of Operations Rick Welts was the President and CEO of Phoenix, and numerous Warriors staffers now were also employed by the Suns.
Nash knows this group of people very well, and can attest to the type of environment fostered within this franchise. When Durant shared with Nash his concerns about team chemistry if he were to join, Nash confidently assured him what a great group of players, coaches, executives, and staffers the Warriors are.
An added dimension somewhat similar to what West provided was the perspective of a legendary player who struggled to reach the ultimate team success while in the league. Unlike West, Nash never won a championship, or even got to an NBA Finals for that matter.
Durant has never won a championship himself, so that connection with Nash served as a powerful bond, and went a long way in ensuring him that guys like Nash and West could relate to the struggle of trying to get over the hump of winning a championship.
It’s truly all about winning for Durant, and the guidance of those two legends who grappled themselves in regards to winning convinced him that a team like Golden State had legendary potential to achieve NBA immortality as a historically successful squad.
Nash deserves a lot of credit for the sage advice he gave Durant, and his perspective made Durant feel secure enough in his decision to start a new chapter in his basketball career.