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Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett looks down upon Kevin Durant for taking the easy path to winning a championship. Garrett explained his frustration with Durant for joining the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, fresh off the team’s record-setting 73-win season.
“KD broke the league,” Garrett said on Thursday in an interview with Ken Carman and Anthony Lima on 92.3 The Fan when asked if he watched this year's NBA Finals.
“You hopped onto a 73-9 team and he took the easy way out in my mind,” Garrett said.
Garrett wisely pointed out that Durant signing with the 73-win Warriors—who narrowly defeated Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals—is not comparable to LeBron James joining the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency because the talent around him was subpar (Mo Williams was the second-best player on the 2009-10 Cavaliers!?!), unlike Durant who was playing alongside future Hall of Famer Russell Westbrook. James went to Miami, which had lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2010, to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Durant signed with a Golden State team that had already maintained significant success without him, winning the title in 2015 and reaching Game 7 of the Finals in 2016.
“It's different when LeBron left. He went to [Miami to join] Wade and Bosh but it wasn't something that was already guaranteed, something you already knew was going to have immediate success. [James] had to gel and work things into place.”
The Warriors have won two straight titles with Durant. Garrett, the first overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft, is not surprised by Golden State’s dominance.
“They were 73-9 before and you put the second-best player in the world on an already all-time great team and of course you're going to have success, pretty easy success. Anyone can have an off night and they can still find a way to win.”
Game 3 of the Finals supports Garrett’s assertion. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson struggled to get anything going offensively that night. Curry (11 points) had a horrific shooting night—missing 13 of 16 shots, including nine of his 10 three-point attempts—while Thompson was held to 10 points. But Durant bailed out his teammates with an otherworldly performance, scoring 43 points (15-of-23 shooting) with 13 rebounds and seven assists.
Now a two-time Finals MVP, Durant has played tremendous in each of the past two postseasons with the Warriors. But the fact remains that Durant is dominating on a roster that was already a powerhouse without him.
A competitive drive would prevent Garrett from ever hopping onto the best roster in the league just to win a championship, he says.
“If I were him I would've never made a move like that in the first place,'' he said. “Me, I'm too competitive to try and ride on somebody's coat tails to get a W. But for him, you might as well stay at the spot you're at now. There's no point in leaving since you've already taken that moniker where he's been called the snake and cupcake and all that. You might as well stay and just keep on winning.”
It’s hard to argue with any of Garrett’s criticism for Durant.
Durant undoubtedly took the easiest path to a championship. While a member of the Thunder, Durant almost dethroned the Warriors with the help of superstar teammate Russell Westbrook. Leaving the Thunder for the Warriors—a month removed from the teams’ seven-game Conference Finals showdown—was a snake move, no matter how you spin it.
Garrett, who shined with Cleveland when healthy (11 games played) in his rookie season, is preaching to the choir of many NBA fans who are upset with Durant. The media far too often coddles Durant, who spited his former Oklahoma City teammates and coaches passive aggressively with burner Twitter accounts, while also whining about the criticism sent his way for his move in free agency.
It’s refreshing to hear a fellow professional athlete speak out against Durant, who has coasted to consecutive championships.