The Decisions: Kevin Durant and LeBron James


By this point, everyone is aware that prized free agent, Kevin Durant, has chosen to leave Oklahoma City and go play for the Golden State Warriors. With this decision, fans have reacted in all different ways. Warriors fans were ecstatic, Thunder fans were heartbroken. Even fans of neither team still had a strong opinion one way or another. I have heard fans call it a cowardly act, others say he made a smart decision, some are intrigued by the move, some think it causes the NBA to be less interesting, people have had all different reactions. The one thing that most people immediately did though is compare this to LeBron James leaving Cleveland in 2010. So I ask, how does this relate to when LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010?

LeBron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. In the first seven seasons that LeBron was a Cavalier, he made it to the playoffs five of those seven years, only missing out on his first two seasons. Out of the five consecutive playoff appearances LeBron had with Cleveland, he led his team to one NBA Finals appearance (Lost to Spurs). Kevin Durant was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics (later moved to Oklahoma to become the Thunder) in 2007. In the nine seasons Durant has been with the Thunder, Durant led them to playoffs in six of those nine years. Out of the six playoff appearances, Kevin Durant has also played in only one NBA Finals (lost to Heat).

To take it even deeper: LeBron James had never lost in the first round of any playoffs with the Cavaliers. He made it to five consecutive playoffs, reaching the second round five consecutive times. Kevin Durant does not have that same success, he has lost in the first round, though it was his first year entering the playoffs, it still happened. Three of the five years LeBron made it to the playoffs; his team was a one or two seed. In the six years Durant has made it to the playoffs his team has been a one or two seed three times as well.

In the 2010 playoffs, the Cavaliers (1 seed) lost to the Boston Celtics (4 seed) in seven games. In the 2016 playoffs, the Thunder (3 seed) lost to the Golden State Warriors (1 seed) also in seven games. The last game for both players before leaving was a game seven loss. Both teams either were, or became the favorites to win their respective series. Cleveland being the one seed, and Oklahoma having a 3-1 series lead.

When LeBron left Cleveland, there was a goal in mind that he was not just leaving his team for another, he was joining forces with Chris Bosh to head to Miami to play with Dwyane Wade. A super team was in mind and that is exactly what was formed. No, Miami wasn’t already a top seed in the East, but when you know another star is on the way with you, it sure makes things look a lot brighter. Kevin Durant chose to leave Oklahoma City and go play for one of the best NBA teams currently assembled, the Golden State Warriors.

The ultimate point is that neither LeBron nor Durant had a bad situation with their ‘home’ team. They both had great individual and team success. LeBron and Durant both won MVP awards with their respective teams (LeBron winning 2). There are arguments to be made on both sides. Golden State was the team that eliminated Oklahoma City in the playoffs this year. But keep in mind, this decision was based on his entire career, not just that one playoff series. Just like LeBron’s decision was based on his career with Cleveland and not just his most recent game seven loss. Despite what anyone’s thoughts, feelings, or opinions are, the facts are there that showed both players left similar situations. The ultimate goal for both players was to win an NBA Championship. LeBron got his in Miami, now we wait and see if Durant can capture his.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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