Analysts and fans alike are doubling down on their speculations about why Kevin Durant felt compelled to leave the Warriors and sign with the Brooklyn Nets. According to The Undefeated NBA writer Marc Spears, who cites a source "close to Durant," the four-time NBA scoring champion felt like he was operating in Steph Curry's shadow.
"While Durant’s shocking move to join the Warriors in 2016 quickly paid dividends for him — two straight championships and two Finals MVP awards — there was always the sense that the 10-time All-Star felt like a distant second fiddle to Stephen Curry," he writes. "Perhaps it would have helped the Warriors’ cause if their fans showed more love and appreciation for Durant’s elite achievements."
When asked about the negativity that took place between Durant and the Warriors in the 2018-19 season, the source said: “All that showed a lack of respect for one of the greatest players to put that uniform on and the fact that he took all that abuse and still put his career on the line to help them win."
Curry reportedly found out about Durant's departure at the same time as the rest of the league: on the news. According to The Athletic, Curry was on a flight from Shanghai to New York when news broke of his move to the Nets.
"He wasn’t going to pitch Kevin Durant on why he should stay with the Warriors. It was already too late," NBA writer Marcus Thompson II explains. "He was on the plane when the news broke that Durant was leaving for Brooklyn. And Curry didn’t turn the jet around or cancel the trip. Because it wasn’t about recruiting. It was about respect. It was about thanks."
The Warriors co-chairman and CEO Joe Lacob shared a statement thanking Durant and announcing that his No. 35 jersey will be retired.
"His commitment to our community was evident each day, including last season when his philanthropic efforts earned him the NBA’s annual Community Assist Award," Lacob said. "Today, as he starts a new chapter in his incredible career, we thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey. As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”