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When Steph Curry was asked by “Rolling Stone” for his reaction to the rumors that Kevin Durant was considering a return to the Warriors this summer, the reigning NBA Finals MVP replied with a resounding, “Hell yeah!”
With that response making waves across the NBA offseason, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had a similar answer when asked if Durant should regret leaving Golden State.
“Hell yes,” Smith said Tuesday on “First Take.” “I think that’s obvious. There’s no way around that.”
Smith initially was critical of Durant’s decision to sign with the Warriors after the Oklahoma City Thunder blew a three-games-to-one series lead in the 2016 Western Conference finals.
“To put myself on front street,” Smith said, “We all know I was on the record years ago when he left Oklahoma City, calling it the weakest move that I’ve ever seen by a superstar.
“Having said all of that, it doesn’t take away that the man went there, won back-to-back titles, and they would have blown Toronto out of the building, out of the country of Canada, if Kevin Durant was healthy against Kawhi Leonard,” Smith said. “There is no way in hell the Toronto Raptors would have beaten the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals if Kevin Durant, and ultimately Klay Thompson in that Game 6, had not gotten hurt.”
Following that 2019 NBA Finals loss to Toronto, Durant packed his bags to begin a partnership with Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets. Through three seasons, that has resulted in one playoff series win, while the Warriors pressed the “resume” button on their dynasty and claimed the 2022 NBA crown.
“Last year, everybody in the [Durant] camp got mad at me because I said if the Golden State Warriors win, people are going to be talking more about KD leaving Steph to join Kyrie than they would be talking about his two titles,” Smith said.
“After the season ended and Steph Curry won the championship and the NBA Finals MVP, what are they talking about? ‘You left Steph Curry, what the hell were you thinking?’ “
In Smith’s mind, however, it’s not too late for Durant to rewrite the storylines surrounding the Nets star.
“The only way to overcome that narrative is for [Durant] to show up in Brooklyn this year.”
The Warriors are scheduled to play against Durant’s Nets twice during the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season — Dec. 21 on the road and Jan. 22 at Chase Center.