Despite winning an NBA title in his first season with the Golden State Warriors, TNT analyst and former Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller still believes that Kevin Durant took an unnecessary shortcut by heading to the Bay Area.
Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder after nine years and a solitary NBA Finals appearance in the 2011-12 season, where the Thunder lost in five games to the Miami Heat to join a Golden State Warriors already littered with elite talent led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The arrival of Durant to the Bay Area was seen as a controversial move with many saying that the 28-year-old sold out the Oklahoma City franchise for a ring.
Writing for Bleacher Report, Miller, who never won an NBA ring in his 18 years with the Pacers wrote that he could never have left Indiana because of the rapport he had with the fans, the players, the coaches and even the backroom staff, going further and stating that he left a legacy which he was proud of.
“Durant would have been a god if he stayed in Oklahoma City,” Miller writes. “People always say to me, “I’m so glad you stayed with us”—that I stayed for 18 years with a small-market (Pacers) team in Indiana.
“But the media, of which I am a part, always says, “Well, he never won a championship.” And I get that; I understand that. Not winning a championship burns me to this day.
“After reaching six Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals only to finish without a title, I sympathize with Durant’s dilemma. A rebound, loose ball, free throw, missed assignment, missed box-out can change everything. Being so close and ultimately losing sucks.
“Nevertheless, it was the fight to put Indiana on the map that, in my mind, is my greatest accomplishment.
“That’s what Durant gave up by leaving the Thunder. And that matters. Had he stayed in Oklahoma City, people would have said, “He spurned all the other offers and continued to fight the giant.
“Even if Durant didn’t win a championship like me, John Stockton or players who briefly spent time elsewhere like Ewing, Karl Malone, etc. the rest of the world would have looked at him in a different light because he fought, rather than joined, the giants—LeBron, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Chris Paul, etc. And to me, that’s a true legacy.”