There have not been too many Kevin Durant moments in the Golden State Warriors uniform. There’s the shot over LeBron James in last year’s Game 3. There were some sublime performances sprinkled throughout both postseasons. But the amount of dominance permeating through each game overshadowed what is the sheer power of these Warriors. On Wednesday night, in Cleveland, the pure greatness of these Warriors were stripped away. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson couldn’t hit a single jumper. Draymond Green was sublime on defense but he is one man. With a hobbling Andre Iguodala not even looking at the rim on offense, Durant posted an end-to-end show like no one in the history of the NBA can. 15-23, 6-9 from 3, 13 boards, 7 assists, +15, and 43 excruciatingly loud points.
Much will be noted of the battle between Stephen Curry and KD for the Finals MVP. As of now, it appears it’s locked up for Durant but the emotion and the reaction between the two players perfectly exemplified what the team has made a narrative the last four seasons. Strength in Numbers is probably the corniest slogan ever but Steve Kerr has made it a point as an ex-role player to have everyone involved. From a mental perspective, happiness in the form of mindfulness has made this team not only fun to watch but a joy to be around. Contrast that with LeBron James, a player that’s perhaps the greatest of all time, but perpetually playing for franchises mired in insecurity and drama. With Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry leading the way, it’s not about assembling a team to take down LeBron James, it’s about a team perfectly built together to withstand all opponents for a long, long time.
So in steps Kevin Durant. Someone that left his previous stop to find the joy, find the happiness, and the intangible unity the Warriors so oozed ubiquitously. The transition has always been more seamless than rugged. There were weird bumps along the way but a player like KD with his unselfishness and high mental aptitude on the court meant the roughest moments only came when it mattered most. And they blew through the Houston Rockets challenge with passing colors. And slowly but surely, they look to become as flowing and free as they do in the regular season, now with their legacies on the line. Stephen Curry has had the big games, on the biggest stages, but was dreadful until crunchtime. In walked the greatest player they could have ever thought of recruiting.
And he put them on his back. Fadeaway jumpers, double hesi-jumpers, pull-up 3s, and a voracious appetite on the boards. There was nothing he wasn’t doing and nobody he wasn’t eviscerating in front of him. Again, 15-23, 6-9 from 3, 13 boards, 7 assists, +15, and 43 excruciatingly loud points.
As Durant railed the final 3, about 5 feet from the same spot a year ago, Steph stood in front of him and let go a scream reserved for his own dances and 3s. Not but half an hour ago, Durant sat there on the podium and proclaimed, “Steph’s 3 in that quarter was the biggest shot.” In those two moments, everything came together like the greatest plan ever conceived. The joy, the happiness, the cohesiveness, and the chance to go down as not just a dynasty but one of the greatest duos of all time.