The NBA is a championship-centered league. While one ring helped some superstars cement their legacy, most need a few to get put into the all-time conversation. That’s why so many great players join up with other all-stars to try and create a dynasty of their own.
The following sections look at the power rings hold in the NBA. They then use that discussion to reflect on Kevin Durant’s personal search for championships, how he eventually got the two rings (2017, 2018) he has, and what his quest meant for his legacy overall.
Win, or Go Home
The NBA has a long history of dynasties. One team dominated just about every decade, which put a lot of stress on stringing multiple championships together. Every team, from the Celtics to the Showtime Lakers to the Bulls, Spurs, and Heat, won at least two rings during their time.
Not only that, but all of those teams routinely made the Finals even if they didn’t take home the trophy. That split the entire league. Finals winners were either part of a dynasty and had multiple rings, or they had one or two magical years where they cemented their legacy as winners.
Pressure to Perform
As with any top-end draft pick, Durant came into the league with a lot of pressure. He excelled at Texas, and he continued his high level play on the Sonics/Thunder. He didn’t have a lot of early success in terms of wins, but that quickly changed.
Shortly after Durant signed with the Thunder, they brought in Russel Westbrook and James Harden. Those three created one of the best trios in the league and were touted as future champions before even reaching the playoffs.
They did play well together, racking up regular season wins. Even so, they never quite put it all together. They had some playoff success, even making one Finals, but they couldn’t do it reliably and they never won a ring.
That lack of end-season success led most to consider the trio to be a disappointment. Even after Harden left, the Thunder routinely made the playoffs. However, once they hit their stride, they ran head first into another dynasty that just had a bit more fire power.
The Rise of the Warriors
As mentioned, a team dominates every decade in the NBA. In the 2010’s, it was the Warriors. Golden State had been through a long success drought, but the combination of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green proved too much for most teams to handle.
They won their first ring in 2015, and then went on to win the most regular season games ever. While they would lose in the Finals the following year, they beat Durant’s Thunder in game seven of the Western Conference Finals to make that happen.
At that same time, Durant hit a crossroads in his career. He had the regular season accolades to go with scoring titles and impressive stats, but he had yet to make it all the way to the top of the mountain. Desperate to be in the conversation, he made a drastic move.
After losing the Warriors, Durant went to Golden State. Joining up with a Warriors team that already seemed to be head and shoulders above everyone else proved to be a great move in terms of winning, but a risky one in terms of public perception.
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A Love/Hate Relationship
Durant currently has two rings, both of which he got with the Warriors. After joining them in free agency, Durant brought unmatched firepower to the organization that already had a ton. It created some of the best three shooting ever, as well as one of the best offenses of all time.
The Warriors cruised to two straight titles. However, Durant’s decision to move to the organization that knocked him out of the playoffs the year before soured a lot of fans.
Rings matter because, beyond the experience, they impact legacy. Durant put himself into the history books by cementing the Golden State dynasty, but he also suffered a lot of backlash to make it happen. Still, asking him, all of the negative press was definitely worth it.
Kevin Durant is undoubtedly one of the best players of all time. Even so, the way he got his two championships ate into his legacy. Winning two rings is great, but not being able to do it on his own without the help of Steph and Klay took away some of the magic.
Still, he helped create one of the NBA’s most impactful dynasties. He wasn’t the biggest part of that, but it wouldn’t have been as easy without him. There’s no telling if he’ll get one more before he retires, but even if he doesn’t, he still pushes past the barrier and got two to his name.