In this story, YOU are Kevin Durant!
Make the best decisions and win your first Championship.
It’s the first night of the season against the dangerous Spurs. Everything is flowing well in the warmups, great vibe at the Oracle. I feel happy. Just a few minutes before the game, Klay Thompson approaches and says:
“Hey, Kev, don’t forget to share the rock. Remember: this is team first basketball. Hero ball doesn’t stick around here; you feel me?”
I couldn’t help to realize Klay’s expression was a bit dubious… was that a warning? What do you tell him?
a) Not a problem, bro. (Go to number 2)
b) Don’t worry, Klay. I know hero’s basketball doesn’t stick… (Go to number 3)
Klay seemed relieved. He threw me some mean assists. Man, it is fun playing here. We won easily, and I scored 35 points. Fitting, I guess. In the TV interview, I made sure I praised my new Oakland bros, but I forgot to mention Draymond Green. In the locker room, after everyone left, he told me: “Dude… you think that was funny? Mentioning everyone but me… I see you Kevin… not cool! Westbrook texted me yesterday saying I should be careful with you!” You’re stunned. What do you reply?
a) Dude, Westbrook’s mad because I left! Don’t believe anything he says! (go to number 4)
b) It was just a momentary lapse of reason. Just chill Dray, no bigly! (proceed to number 5)
c) Are you kidding me? Why would I praise you? You never shared the goods, my friend. I thought we were playing team basketball… (go to number 6)
Klay says it’s Ok, but it doesn’t look like he bought it. His final words before leaving were: “Well, Westbrook isn’t exactly reliable, right?”. I try to forget this strange occurrence. A few days later, the game everyone is expecting: OKC vs. GSW, the Westbrook-Durant showdown. The night before Westbrook texted me: “Sweet dreams, bro. Tomorrow I will be your worst nightmare. I’ll make you pay for betraying me”. I found it funny and juvenile. Nevertheless, I didn’t sleep a hundred per cent. When the game started, he was dominating, and although I knew what he was going to do, still it was very hard to stop him. Warriors are down by 12, mid 3rd quarter. Curry and Klay are not synced. Their shots are off. I can beat him on my own, but that would mean erase the motto “Team first basketball” written in the locker room. It’s a cool note aside another one that says: “No pussy cats here – just Warriors!”. It’s a very hard decision. In the end, I decide to:
a) Stay focused. I don’t want to go against the Warriors flow. (proceed to number 7)
b ) Ditch the game plan altogether and start playing hero ball. (proceed to number 8)
Klay makes an enigmatic expression. His final words before leaving were: “Well, we all heard Westbrook isn’t exactly reliable, right?” Your relationship starts to go cold. Anyway, I move along. Weeks go by until one of the marquee matchups against the Knicks, who are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference and playing incredible basketball. Carmelo is having a career year, inspired by the amazing talent beside him. An article went viral saying Melo is the frontrunner for MVP and that, right now, he is the best small forward after LeBron James. I ‘m furious! Now I’m determined to prove I’m the best SF, even better than LeBron James. On a whim, I decide to play old school OKC ball. I totally ignore Curry, Klay, and the Dray. They were invisible to me. In the end, I amassed 46 points and got a standing ovation. Everyone was praising me except my teammates. In the locker room I turned and said:
a) What do you mean, I should have passed more? I threw 2 or three open looks to you and Curry, but you failed miserably. I was not going to lose this game and my personal battle with Melo. Sorry, if you don’t like it. I’m sorry. This is the way I am. (go to number 9)
b) Don’t look at me like that. You know what’s it like when people doubt you. This was personal and a one time only event. Let’s just move on. (go to number 10)
“No bigly? What the %#$%”#$ !” He leaves talking to himself like a mad man. I decide to ignore him. Always kicking people, anyway. Dude’s a nut!
I’m moving ahead, already looking forward to the Christmas game. The night before, Dray decides to show up and apologize for his behavior. He invites me to a private party with some famous rappers. “Is Dame going to be there?”, I ask. “Please… these are important, serious rappers. Dame is nothing, boy. Nothing.” Apparently, Dray isn’t exactly fond of Dame’s vocal skills. Older stuff that happened between them. I was unaware. Dray tells me one time he felt like Lillard should be next in line for some kicks. “Chill, dude!”, I exclaimed. “You already had two flagrant 2’s this season. Get a grip, homie!”. He chuckles and says: “You’re hilarious, Kevin! Come on, move; we’re late.”
When I arrive at this luxurious mansion, everyone’s having fun. Lots of drinks and charming ladies, hanging around. One of them is particularly adorable. “Oh, my God! Kevin Durant! Please take a selfie with me!” I just do it, and she practically kisses my feet. She runs to get some drinks and offers me a beer. I’m enchanted. She’s a good kisser. It’s almost time to return (“Never forget your obligations!”, I remember what mama always said). I’m having such a good time. I finally decide to:
a) Stay a little longer. Rules are meant to be broken. It’s not like I’m going to drink much more or stay up very late. (go to number 11)
b) Tell her to give me her number; I’ll call her later, but now I have to go, busy day tomorrow. (proceed to number 12)
“You know what? I never appreciated the fact you were coming here. Like I previewed, you’re ruining our chemistry. This is like college over here.We’re all in together. I’m gonna tell Curry what you’re up to.”
A few weeks later I start to realize the mood has shifted. There are plenty of happy faces, but I’m not one of them. It’s obvious Klay has manipulated Curry and the rest of the gang. I shouldn’t have said that. I thought he was the not so important 3rd cat in this “Curry’s Top Cat crew.” Shortly before the All-Star break the General Manager calls me and ships me for Sacramento, in exchange for Cousins and some more valuable players. It’s not bad over here; they call me the best King ever. Still, I cry when I see the Warriors being Champions in June. Now I have to start all over again. (Oops! This is not the way – Start again!)
Amazingly, trusting my teammates paid off. To my surprise, we win the game, despite me losing the personal battle with my “good ol’ friend Russel.” Obviously, he texts me later at night: “Hey, bandwagon boy, you sucked today. Your teammates had to pull all the weights.” I reply saying: “Team Warriors vs. Team Westbrook. One day you’ll find out the difference!”. Russel is always annoying me. Why can’t he just move past the fact I left?
In any case, things are going very well. We are ahead of the Conference, playing mind-blowing basketball. Everyone’s focused. They all want sweet revenge from last year’s Finals. The 3-1 jokes will never fade. I want to have my second battle against LBJ, as well. He only beat me, Russ and the Beard because we were too young, too inexperienced. Now, with scoring titles, MVP and one of the best NBA teams ever assembled, the story will be different. I’ll be the Finals MVP – my private sweet revenge to LBJ’s antics. He doesn’t fool me, hiding in the weak Eastern Conference, where’s so much easier to go to the Finals.
All-Star game is around the corner. I’m the MVP. LeBron James looks at me unamused and says: “Nice game, bandwagon man.” I laugh and say:
a) You’re funny! Didn’t you do the same? Get yourself a mirror… not two, not three, not four… (go to number 13)
b) See you in June, ex-south beach talented player. (proceed to number 14)
c) Thank you, King. (proceed to number 15)
This is fun! How I’ve missed it! I play die-hard hero ball, taking no prisoners. I ignored my teammates looks. I know I’m better than all of them, anyways. I destroyed Russel. He got 21 points; I got 54. At night, I texted him: “So… no trash talking tonight?” and I added the smiley emoji for special fun. Obviously, he didn’t reply.
Next weeks, though, basketball turned sour. All my teammates turned on me. I thought it was just a childish behaviour from them. Nevertheless, this went on for a long time. I finally decided I’ve had enough and decided to confront them. They told me I was no longer a part of their brotherhood: “We’re here to win multiple titles. Not to accumulate individual glory. Maybe you missed that.” I try to plead my case, but it was already in the books. More precisely, in the transfer books. Shortly after this conversation, I was shipped to Philadelphia, the cemetery of young talent, to hopefully become “a cult hero for a city used to lose more than it should in recent years.” I will never forget these words from one of the managers.
Now, as I watch the Cavs win their back to back, I know I could have helped the Warriors Brotherhood to win again. As I look at the celebrations, a Sixers rookie texts me: “Hey, Kev, do you think we can compete in 3 or 4 years against the very best?” I just reply: “Well… trust the process, boy. Trust the process”. Then I drink a few glasses of wine to space out completely and forget about this season. (Oops! Start again, find a better way!)
Klay starts arguing with me. It gets ugly. He says I’m full of s**t and that Westbrook was right – I couldn’t be trusted. I realize some people are looking at me with sad faces. This is strict around here, I thought. No foolishness allowed? I’m starting to regret this decision. I now come to the crossroads of this season: the highly emotionally charged Christmas game against the Cavs. These cats now detest LBJ & Co. even more than that orange fella loathes Hillary. They all gather around me and say: “We’ve decided to give you another chance. It’s quite rare here. We’re not like other teams. To prove you’re one of us, you’ll have to make more assists than numbers tonight.” I reply:
a) Are you kidding me? That’s preposterous! (go to number 16)
b) Ok. I will. (proceed to number 15)
c) What if the game is on the line? Can I revert that rule, then? (continue to number 18)
Curry says: “Ok, then. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. However, if this happens again, there will be severe consequences. We don’t allow traitors here. You must follow Kerr’s words. Haven’t you looked at the Kintsukuroi picture? We’re trying to rebuild ourselves from last season scandalous loss. Every time I see a 1-3 joke, I get mad. The other day one of the dogs was kicked out of pure fury! Maybe I’m spending too much time with Dray… but I digress. What I mean is: We don’t tolerate ball hogs here. Either your play our way or you’re on your way.”
I listened carefully and made sure I wasn’t going to repeat that mistake. These dudes mean business. This is tighter than a 14 years old food can in some deranged dude’s “apocalyptic just in case bunker.” On January, the 16th, we meet Cleveland again. We lost on Christmas Night, and we’re eager to change the outcome.
I’m feeling good today. As I leave to the locker room at halftime, LBJ waits for me and throws a zinger: “You’ll never win with those Splash brothers. They only won because I didn’t have my bros Kyrie and Love, a much better Kevin than you, by the way”, he says with a lot of malice. I respond:
a) Ha! Everyone knows you only won because Bogut was injured, Dray got suspended and Curry wasn’t a 100% (go to number 13)
b) Better Kevin than me? Pathetic! You’re the funniest man alive! Well, get ready to cultivate your sense of humor. You’re gonna need it the next years. I intend to stay here and win not three, not four, not five Titles…. (go to number 14)
c) We’ll see, LeBron. We’ll see. (proceed to number 15)
I woke up with a ton of messages in my phone. Most of them are from my agent. Like that hangover movie, I have trouble recollecting my thoughts. WHAT THE…?! Photos and videos of me drinking and behaving crazy are all over the internet. One of them has more than two million views already. I’m having trouble recollecting my thoughts. Slowly, it starts to come back. That girl kept serving me drinks. One of them was green, “the green fairy,” or something… I had never experienced it. I start to put the pieces together, just as I get a text from Draymond: “Talk about a wild party, huh?” He made a lot of videos and spread them like wildfire through the Internet, like that D’recording man, better known for his D’Loading Swaggy P videos.
A lot of stories emerge. It didn’t help the fact that, in one fo the videos, I said, at a certain point: “I can see myself and Russel win one for the Oklahoma land after I won a lot of titles in sunnier places! I can see it! I can see it! Not four, not five… just a good one!”
Shortly after this deluge of “Party leaks” photos and videos, my reputation as a drinker and Stoner grew. The funny aspect of this story is that I hardly drink and never take drugs. Damn you, Green monster man! Now, as my career is irreparably lost, I contemplate my last two options: The Shangai Sharks or the Melbourne Kangaroos. They told me I could drink, smoke and do whatever. It’s always good for their League’s promotion. (oops, this is not the way. Start from the top and help Durant – find a different path!)
“Leaving already? Come on, stay longer!”, says Green. I stick to my plan. I’ve got to stay focused. It’s a long season. I can’t handle any distractions. I remember that time I discovered “The Game of Thrones.” All the hours spent watching the episodes. I even blew some scouting reports – who reads that, anyway? You don’t need it when you’re as good as me.
Weeks go by. It’s February, the 23rd. Clippers game. It’s always chippy between these two. Griffin starts to provoke me. I make a slam dunk on his face. Take that, poster child! We win easily. I finish with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Not too shabby. Griffin unfollows me from Twitter when the memes “Take that, poster child” start to appear. Man, it’s a wild world out there. No one’s safe in the NBA Twittersphere.
We’re now approaching the playoffs. 28th of March. “Once more unto the bearded breach, dear friends.” It was hard to let him go. Choosing Ibaka over him was OKC’s biggest mistake. If we had stayed together, who knows how many Championships? 30 points each every night, that’s 90 guaranteed. Rockets are playing well this season. Harden says he’s gonna outplay me for having eliminated him from OKC. “I know you were the one who advised my way out. Now it’s payback time.” I laugh and say:
a) Keep throwing your three points Rockets, boy. You’re going nowhere. (proceed to number 22)
b) You’re paranoid, bearded man. Maybe you should cut the beard! (proceed to number 14)
c) You’re right. At that moment, you were a threat to our masterplan. (go to number 20)
We breezed through the Playoffs, eager to play the Cavs. They are a lock, evidently. Eastern Conference is too weak for them. On the 4th game, LeBron James dunks on my face and makes a special celebration dance. I lose my focus. We find ourselves losing 3-1. I never recover my mojo. Curry, Klay, Iguodala and Green do their best, but they need my help. On the 5th game, I’m playing a good game until the moment LeBron gets close, steals the ball and makes an alley-oop on the fast break. He passes right through me and says: “not four, not five…”. I can’t bounce back. Damn mind games. I let him into my head. Now I’m completely off, shooting air balls. Cavs win. I gained a valuable lesson. Don’t mess with the King. He might block my best move. Now it’s time to go back to Oakland land and digest this loss. (This is not the way. Start again)
The rest of the season goes by, fast and furious style. We’re playing very well. It’s clear this is a two horses race. We finally meet. Just before the NBA Finals, LeBron James jokes with the media, saying: “Durant? He might win one year after I retire. For now, though, he will lose not two, not three, not four…”. Everyone bursts into raucous laughter. “Maybe he can take back his talents to OKC, from where he should have never left,” he adds.
Those words resonate in my head, but I try my best to keep them astray. The NBA finals went down to the wire. Game 7, Cavs up two. I go hard to the basket. LeBron James comes out of nowhere and fouls me. I make the first free throw. On the second one, he whispers… “not one, not two,” just as I am about to shoot. The ball goes round and round but doesn’t go in. Cavs won. Curry and the rest of the Warriors brotherhood look at me disappointed. I shouldn’t have had provoked the King. NBA Finals is very different – I almost forgot what it was like from my only time there, with that OKC team. There are a lot of games going on. Like chess. Mind games. I take a mental note and think to myself: maybe next time. (oops – this is not the way! Go back and try again!)
We’re now in the Playoffs. We face good ol’ Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, now without the Big Fundamental Tim Duncan. The addition of Gasol was key. When LaMarcus, Parker, and the Claw play well, they’re a handful. Still, they can’t stop us. Surprisingly, it’s a balanced series. The Claw is defending me like there was no tomorrow. It’s game 6, elimination game. Leonard says: “You’re gonna lose this one and the next. I own you now.” I look surprised and say:
a) Ha ha ha! You’re nothing compared to me, Leonard, boy. Just an apprentice. (go to number 23)
b) Prove it! (proceed to number 25)
The moment I finish the sentence, Curry says: “You’re out!” A few weeks later I’m “surprisingly traded” to Orlando. As I watch the Warriors celebrate, I reflect on that decision. Lost in my head, I suddenly realize Curry is talking to the media now. I raise the volume, just in time to hear him say: “The key in these Finals was playing our branded team basketball first. There’s a lot of magic in sharing the ball, as a principle.” Then he smiles lightly and calls her kid to the stage. She keeps shouting: “Magic! Magic!” (Oops – wrong way! Try again)
The mere fact you’re disputing what I’m saying makes us understand you didn’t get it. Team basketball rules! Sorry, Kevin, it’s best if we go our separate ways…
“What are you saying? I thought we were buddies.”
“Haven’t you heard? Bros before hero ball, Kevin. Bros before hero ball.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“No. I’m informing you. I’ve already discussed this with Joe. He’s aware of the situation. We all heard. This was your final exam. Now if you excuse me, we have a game and a season to win. You’ll be informed of your next NBA team by this Friday. Nice meeting you. We’re done.”
And just like that, baby face assassin killed my Warriors experience. Maybe if I never left OKC… they’re playing good basketball now. I wonder where am I going to play next season… (oops! This is not the way – go back and try again!)
I’m outraged now. I try to relax and ask Green to tell me a joke, but it doesn’t work. I’m all riled up. I lose it for a split second. I go hard and hit DeAndre with all my strength. I make sure it’s not a dangerous foul. I enjoy his sense of humor. I just want to ensure he doesn’t defy me anymore. Unfortunately, we got a strict referee tonight. I get an immediate flagrant two.
The next day, the League decides to suspend me for three games. We were winning 2-1. We lost the Series. Klay, Dray, and Curry didn’t talk to me all Summer long. I got a funny text from Westbrook: “So, how’s life in sunny Oakland?” (Oops, you blew it! Time to go back and try another way!)
I stay focused on my game. Nothing and no one are going to stop me. A few days later, that incident is old news. Next: NBA Finals. On media day, a reporter asks if I’m the 1st, second or third better player in the NBA… I answer:
a) We all know I’m the best right now. No disrespect to LeBron or Curry but right now no one can beat me. That’s why I won the regular season MVP, and I have these amazing Playoffs stats. (go to number 13)
b) I would say it’s a tie between Curry and me. That dude is far out, the tricks he pulls… LeBron? Distant 3rd. (go to number 14)
c) What about Westbrook? No love for him? Durant and all the reporters laugh hard! (proceed to number 24)
Western Conference Finals versus the Clippers. CP3 and Griffin are toasting and posting. DeAndre Jordan fouls me hard when I go for a vicious dunk. He smiles at me, defiantly. I say:
a) I’m gonna get you next time! (proceed to number 19)
b) That’s the only way you can stop me. Pathetic. (proceed to number 14)
Leonard didn’t appreciate my “kind words.” He tries to make a wry smile but, as we all know, smiling is hard for him. He goes into his bag of tricks and completely shuts me out. Steals, blocks, the whole works. Curry and Klay try to incentivize me, but the Claw has moved inside my brain. We end up beaten 4-2 by the new Spurs. Iguodala and Green try to be positive and say: “Maybe next year, Durant.” As I’m about to leave, I ease drop a conversation between Curry and Joe. “Hey, it’s time to execute Plan B. Let’s talk about Summer trades over my place tonight.”
As if a ray of thunder suddenly hit me, basketball started to come out as an intricate Miles Davis composition. Left and right, threes, iso moves, playing the exquisite Warriors constant ball movement basketball. Everything finally clicked. All the missing dots were now in place. I got my first ever NBA Finals MVP. I almost cried of emotion. It’s been a long road to get to this point. Some cities didn’t like me. I guess leaving the Thunder wasn’t OK for some. In any case, I rejoice when I contemplate this splendid trophy. As a proof of their appreciation for the fact I chose the Warriors, the President allowed me to stay a few days with the trophy. I’m having a cigar while listening to Otis Redding classic song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.” Before I go to sleep, I texted Russ: “I saw your interview the other day. How’s life in Oklahoma today? I bet it’s cute.”
The Claw shows his vast array of skills. First, he denies every shot I make. Then he keeps stealing me, showing up quickly after the screens. Pau Gasol and LaMarcus enter the block party. I try to get some help from Curry and Klay, but they keep on hoisting threes. It gets embarrassing. I finish that game with 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and 11 turnovers. That game became known as the “doubled digits TO – Durant KO.” To this day I still have nightmares about it. In the offseason, I pleaded for a great defender. Iguodala took it as an insult. All the other Warriors hated that comment. A few weeks later I found myself packing for my new destination: BrookLin Nets. They say my style will mesh well with Brooklyn’s vibe.