The Golden State Warriors officially won the 2017 NBA title after Game 5 of the Finals on Monday, but they really won it after their Game 7 loss to Cleveland last season.
Why? Because within minutes of losing, Draymond Green texted Kevin Durant to sell him on joining the Warriors.
“I think Draymond Green was already sort of recruiting him from afar the way players do,” Sports Illustrated senior writer Lee Jenkins said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “I don’t think anybody feels like Durant would have gone to Golden State a) if the Thunder had beaten the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and b) if the Warriors had beaten the Cavs in the Finals. Both of those probably wouldn’t have been palatable backdrops for him to make that kind of move.”
But the Thunder couldn’t beat the Warriors (despite having a 3-1 lead), and the Warriors couldn’t beat the Cavs (despite having a 3-1 lead). It was the perfect, historic set-up for Durant’s recruitment.
“After the Warriors lost, Draymond Green goes into the locker room, and right there – right at his locker-room chair – he’s thinking about ways to get pressure off Steph Curry,” Jenkins said. “He’s thinking about ways to kind of command attention for LeBron James on the defensive side so he can’t just freelance for blocks and steals. He texted Kevin Durant right there, which is kind of wild to think. He’s still in his uniform, guys are showering and leaving, and he’s saying to him, ‘See what we’re missing? Make it happen.’ And Durant’s hitting him back and saying that’s kind of where his head is and that he’s ready to do it. Who knows if really his mind was made up in that moment, but clearly the Warriors losing right there added urgency for Green and probably gave Durant a little bit of cover to make that decision.”