More than two months after Kevin Durant decided to leave the Warriors for the Nets on a four-year, $164 million max contract, the two-time NBA champion and back-to-back Finals MVP opened up about his decision to leave.
Durant said he was conflicted about leaving the Bay Area but added that he never felt fully accepted during his three seasons at Golden State, which impacted his decision.
"I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted," Durant told the Wall Street Journal's J.R. Moehringer. "But I'll never be one of those guys. I didn't get drafted there.… Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there. So me? Shit, how you going to rehabilitate me? What you going to teach me? How can you alter anything in my basketball life? I got an MVP already. I got scoring titles."
He continued: "As time went on, I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys. It's not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it's like nobody could [give] a full acceptance of me there."
The 10-time All-Star added that the was impacted by the love he felt from fans in Brooklyn as a visiting player at the Barclays Center. The team's fans and the chance to play with his "best friend in the league" in Kyrie Irving, who also joined the Nets this offseason, were what ultimately sealed the deal on Durant's next chapter.
Durant, 30, joined Brooklyn after declining his player option with Golden State to become a free agent. Durant originally signed with the Warriors in 2016 on a two-year deal and had a player option worth $31.5 million to remain with Golden State.
The move comes after Durant underwent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles. He exited Game 5 of the NBA Finals with an injury and is expected to miss the upcoming season as he recovers. Before his Game 5 appearance, Durant had not played for Golden State since injuring his calf against the Rockets on May 9.
The superstar averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game last season as the Warriors went to their fifth straight NBA Finals and third with Durant on the team.