OAKLAND, Calif. – In a move that was heartbreaking to Oklahoma City Thunder fans, the Golden State Warriors welcomed Kevin Durant to the team with a celebration on Thursday.
On Monday, Durant stunned Thunder faithful by announcing that he had decided to leave the team and sign with the Warriors.
In a letter on his website, Durant said:
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a play – as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
Durant agreed to a two-year $54 million deal with the Warriors, with a player option on the second year.
While Oklahoma City is still reeling from the move and deciding what to do next, the Warriors welcomed the 2014 NBA MVP to the Bay area.
Durant will join a superstar studded lineup with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
On Thursday, Durant officially signed on with the Warriors and addressed Warrior fans in Oakland.
Durant said that when he met Coach Steve Kerr that he felt extremely comfortable, adding that the players seemed to be a family, saying that was something he "couldn't ignore."
"I feel excited about this opportunity," Durant said.
Kerr and Myers said that they were impressed with Durant's character.
"He's better than I thought," Warriors GM Bob Myers said. "Everybody in the NBA would be lucky to have a guy like this on the team."
Durant said that he hopes to improve with the team and lead as best he can.
He said that he went back and forth on the decision to leave the Thunder for the Warriors for a few days before announcing his move.
"It was difficult being in a place for so long and the relationships I've built," Durant said. "That's always going to be a part of who I am."
He said he wanted to make a decision that he wanted to make and not listen to outside voices.
He said that he can't control the negativity that he has received since announcing his departure from the Thunder, saying that he will only focus on his work.
Durant said that even on July 3, he hadn't made a decision. However, he woke up on the Fourth of July and decided that he would join the Warriors.
At that point, he called the Oklahoma City Thunder, saying it was the "hardest thing I've had to do in my life."
When asked about the criticism, Durant said that he doesn't feel guilty about the situation, saying he hasn't changed as a person.
"Nothing in this league is easy, there are no shortcuts," Durant said, adding that it is the "hardest road" because it is full of unknowns.
"I understand the fans in Oklahoma City and basketball fans around the world are upset. Like I said, I made this decision based upon what I wanted to do and how I felt and it's the best decision for me. I can't control how you feel. Sorry you feel that way, but I'm going to continue to live my life. Life goes on and I've got a short amount of time to play basketball. I just want to enjoy every single deal," he said.
When asked about Russell Westbrook, Durant said that he "had a lot of great memories" with Westbrook.
"I'm sure he wasn't happy about the decision but he respected it as a friend," Durant said, adding that he is sure they will talk in the future.
— Will Tran (@KRON4WTran) July 7, 2016
Team officials announced that he will wear #35 for the Warriors.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) July 7, 2016
Last season, the Warriors finished the regular season with 73 wins heading into the NBA Playoffs.
However, they fell short of a second-straight championship, losing to Cleveland for the title.