There were several important factors in Kevin Durant’s shocking decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors, but perhaps none were bigger than his relationship with Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala.
As ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss details, Durant, Curry, and Iguodala bonded during the 2010 FIBA World Championships, an international tournament that many of the league’s biggest stars skipped.
There was no LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, or Dwight Howard. Instead, the group was comprised of several young, talented stars like Durant and Curry who were just coming into their own.
In 2013, when Iguodala joined the Warriors, he explained how he had bonded with Curry and Durant during the tournament.
“Steph and I played together in 2010 in Turkey, and after practice we would come back to the gym at night when we were overseas and just [get] some shots up. I believe it was Kevin Durant [who] was with us, a lot of the time. So it was us three, maybe one or two other guys, but us three were always together. Kinda got a chance to see him work. Knew how in love he was with the game, so we built a pretty good relationship. We had chapels together before every game so we definitely got to know each other. Us three were always together.”
This relationship became crucial when the Warriors recruited Durant. Iguodala, Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all joined the Warriors in their meeting with Durant, and according to Strauss, Iguodala stressed that Durant would enjoy the memories of playing with close friends. Strauss writes:
“[Iguodala] explained how, when your career is finished, you want to reminisce with friends like these. He depicted a future where so much of the present NBA entanglements fade away and a career becomes a memory. When that happens, there’s meaning in having great memories. When that happens, there’s meaning in being able to revisit those memories with great people.”
After Durant signed with the Warriors, Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reported that Curry also sent Durant a text message stressing that he only cares about winning. According to Spears, “Curry told Durant in a text message that he could care less about who is the face of the franchise, who gets the most recognition or who sells the most shoes… The two-time NBA MVP also told Durant that if Durant won the MVP award again he would be in the front row of the press conference clapping for him.”
Much like how LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh’s friendship pushed them to play together when they were free agents in 2010, Curry, Iguodala, and Durant teamed up, in part, because of their relationship. It’s unclear if the incentive would have been as strong for Durant if he didn’t already know two Warriors closely.
Additionally, the Warriors can thank the 2010 World Championships. Had so many of the top superstars not dropped out, it’s possible that players like Curry and Iguodala would have been left off the roster. Instead, the seeds of an eventual super-team were planted.
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