When Kevin Durant joined the Warriors on July 4, 2016, everything in the NBA changed.
Former NBA forward Richard Jefferson believes the move cost him a second championship ring. He says his Cavaliers, the team that defeated Golden State’s 73-win squad in the 2016 Finals, would have won again in 2017 if not for Durant, according to Jefferson himself via The Players’ Tribune, per NBC Sports’ Ali Thanawalla.
“It genuinely pisses me off that we didn’t repeat as champions. I should have two rings,” Jefferson said. “(F***ing Kevin Durant, man!!!)”
It is by no means a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers, led by star forward LeBron James, would have won another title if not for Durant’s free agent move to Golden State. Jefferson does have reason to be confident, however. The Warriors fell apart after forward Draymond Green’s suspension after Game 5 of The 2016 Finals and squandered a 3-1 series advantage.
But those Warriors didn’t win 73 games by accident. What could have been a rematch for the ages turned into a no-contest when Durant was added to Golden State’s already deadly lineup (putting aside the fact there are no guarantees in an alternate universe where Durant signs elsewhere).
Richardson is retired now, and he’s just thinking on what could have been. But he’ll just have to be content in beating the record-breaking 2016 Warriors squad led by Steph Curry, Green and Klay Thompson. Those three players won it all without Durant in 2015, and they would have been capable of getting revenge on their own.
With Durant, however, the team turned into a dynasty that is still going. The team will go for their third consecutive NBA championship in 2019, and the Cavaliers as we know them are gone, with James having moved on to the Lakers. And that’s just what the situation is, no revisionist’s history needed.