It’s been almost as long since Kevin Durant left Golden State as it was that he was there, so the notion of a statute of limitations about who won must naturally arise. And because ours is a painfully linear culture in which the answer “everyone left satisfied” is not permissible, some have to keep dredging up that tired old corpse every time the Warriors and Nets cross paths, as they do this evening in Brooklyn.
This is not about who won anyway, because, yeah, everyone DID get what they wanted. The Warriors got two more rings by addressing their most gaping 2016 need and a far-too-oft-told tale of the night Durant and Draymond Green got pissy with each other. Durant got two rings he would not have otherwise obtained, a leg injury that cost him a season, his own franchise, and a foot that was one unclipped toenail too long for his own good. The Nets got a level of credibility they hadn’t had in two decades. The Warriors got D’Angelo Russell, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier, but mostly the chance to build another contender around Steph Curry again. The Nets got James Harden and a hologram of Kyrie Irving. What’s to complain about? It was three hot years at the acme of the NBA’s popularity, and everyone got paid.
But someone has to lose here, of course, and nothing energizes content producers and hyper-bored tavern dwellers quite like relitigating history that’s already been litigated into a thin gray paste. Green and Durant had a podcast about it, maybe even two. For an argument that lasted a minute, got healed a week later and in the end revealed nothing, this one has been worked over more often than the Christmas story. In fact, if there isn’t a documentary in the works about it, I’ll be very disappointed in the army of grifters who traffic in chewed-over history and turn it into classic hagiographies like The Last Dance, and then into Scottie Pippen’s new book and then … oh, Christ. It’s everywhere. The storytelling orgy of the last two decades of the NBA is becoming this generation’s old guys at the VFW reminiscing about retaking Antwerp. It may be displayed as cinéma verité, manga, slideshows, podcasts, podcasts, or podcasts, but the sky is full of them and they ooze down the mountainside like lava, and like lava, they produce more heat than light.
The Durant-Warriors saga is a simple one. Durant wanted to win, the Warriors had just lost, they schmoozed him, he liked it, but it wasn’t the be-all and end-all of his career path. So he decided after 2018 that 2019 would be the start of his next outreach and everyone knew it. Green knew it, which is why he yelled at Durant. The story was already over when that sassfest at Staples Center brought the truth to the audience.
There. Done. Nothing more to see here, folks … except that that’s not how it works. Durant has been powerpsychoanalyzed, Green’s value as a teammate has been discussed well past death, Steve Kerr has been targeted as a cause of all the friction, and then they all come back together to act like none of it ever happened. It’s talked out, seriously talked out, and the only thing keeping it alive is the tenet that the beast must be fed.
Except that maybe it doesn’t any more. Maybe 28 months is plenty of time to get tired of a story that has been embellished more than it’s been revealed. There’s more gristle than meat left on this particular bone, and I think it would be OK if we just let it go fallow. Jermaine O’Neal’s retelling of the Malice In The Palace had new stuff in it and was therefore worth the effort. This won’t be, unless someone starts making stuff up.
But so we don’t get anyone’s hopes up, tonight’s game starts at 7:30 ET, and it will be just as you expect it to be—boring as all hell because it will almost surely be “THE FIRST MEETING SINCE THE LAST MEETING” level of overwrought. Fortunately there is one other narrative that might spare us an excessive level of Durantiana, and that is Kyrieana. He’s still out there, doing that Kyrie thing, and he ought to be the story that endures because it is ongoing. In time, he will be a full season of How The Universe Works, because he’s put more time into his stories. Durant and the Warriors? Just a whole lotta meh-ing goin’ on.