A third crown on KD’s head?


Will there be a third crown on Kevin Durant’s head? That could well be the question on many people’s minds after the Brooklyn Nets dealt him to the Phoenix Suns to form another big 3 with Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

Another because this is not the first time Durant teamed up with future Hall of Famers in his storied National Basketball Association (NBA) career. The first time was (although it was not considered a big 3 yet) when he joined Russel Westbrook and James Harden to spell Thunder for Oklahoma City. 

The high-scoring trio came closest to hoisting the crown in 2012 when they lost to the best big 3 at the time of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh of Miami. Shortly after, Harden left OKC to become the main man in Houston.

Durant’s most successful trinity experiment was in Golden State where he won the title twice, in 2017 and 2018, with Stephen Curry and Klay Thomson. Of course, they couldn’t have won it with only the three of them and so add another big name: Draymond Green.

There are many versions to why Durant left the Warriors after losing the 2019 Finals to James (again), Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He claimed his spat with Green in 2018 was never really resolved by the franchise but obviously it was time for him to leave.

Durant did not play in his first year at Brooklyn to wait for the injury on his Achilles heel to heal. That injury that prevented him from being 100 percent in the Finals against the Cavaliers also prevented the Nets from getting their money’s worth.

When Durant was finally ready to play, the Nets gifted him with a new big 3, teaming him up with Irving who failed to win a title in Boston and Harden who realised that his Houston experiment was a failure. Just six months later, Harden saw the same thing and asked to be traded. He was shipped to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons.

In 2021, the Suns came within two games of winning the title with Booker, Paul and 2018 top draft pick Deandre Ayton, losing 4-2 to Giannis Antetokounpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. With a top 5 player of Durant’s caliber, Phoenix now looks formidable on paper. 

True, Durant’s arrival sent shock waves to the rest of the league, but it also brings a lot of questions. For one, it is interesting to see how Monty Williams will be able to mesh Durant’s ego with Booker who is relishing his role as franchise player. 

Also worth watching is Ayton who has not been the 2021 version of himself. And while Williams was one main reason why Paul came to Phoenix, it remains to be seen how much is left of CP3 after all the injuries that have hobbled him lately.

Durant who is on the first of a four-year $196-million contract explicitly wanted Phoenix when he asked to be traded and the 13-time All Star said so when it materialised.

“I’m having a good time in the moment, and I can see myself being here for the rest of my career. But who knows? I said the same thing about Brooklyn,” Durant remarked in a recent interview. Obviously, it is not cast in stone and Durant is aware of it.

While Phoenix gave up a lot to acquire Durant, new CEO Mat Ishbia and the rest in the Valley of the Suns hope his arrival will finally break the drought. The 6’10” beanpole who also plays “small” forward is aware of the lofty win-now expectations of the Suns.  

Durant better make up his mind – fast. While the two crowns and the Finals MVP at Golden State proved he is among the league’s most elite, he still needs to disprove the claim that he could not have won it all without Curry and Thomson. Unfair and unkind that claim may be, Durant knows his work is cut out for him.

At 34, time is not on Durant’s side. If that third crown does not come even with Booker, Paul, the best version of Ayton and the rest of the supporting cast in Phoenix, the future Hall of Famer will always be haunted by the ghost of that claim.



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