Kevin Durant was already an MVP winner who was widely considered a top-three NBA player before leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder and signing with the Golden State Warriors in July 2016. But Durant admits that before the Warriors’ four best players flew out to meet him in the Hamptons for their free-agent pitch that summer, he still harbored insecurities about the way he was perceived around the league.
“At that time in my career, I didn’t know how other people felt about my game,”said Durant in one interview. “And I knew that I was pretty damn good and I knew I worked extremely hard, but I needed that validation from my peers and teams and GMs, people that are really into the game, to really help me feel good about myself and help me feel confident and let me know that what I was doing was working.”
For Durant, seeing those four Warriors – a two-time reigning MVP in Steph Curry, two All-NBAers in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and a Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala – all show up for him while expressing their earnest desire to have him join their 73-win juggernaut was all the validation he needed.
“When they all came, and they all put stuff to the side to come to the meeting, I was like, man, this is amazing,” Durant continued. “Best team in the league, some of the best players, most accomplished players want me on their team and want what I do, what I bring to the table. It was pretty cool, you know what I’m saying?
“Because I’m looking at this whole basketball thing from a kid’s perspective. I’m still excited, I’m still learning. So to have that much love in the room for how I play basketball, that’s cool. They’ll get to know me as a person, I was confident with that. But the basketball side, I was, like, man it’s pretty damn cool that people enjoy the way I play and want me to play with them.”
Durant already had a hunch that Golden State would be the right fit for him, so the meeting mostly served to confirm what he already believed.
“At that point I’m just like, this is where I want to be, anyway. I just wanted to meet with them. I wanted to meet and see if this is where I really want to play,” he said.
“So as soon as I sat down, had the first conversation, no small talk, straight to it, I’m like, this is where I need to go. And everything else was the cherry on top. I was already sold when they walked in.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.