Editor's note: This article originally was published on April 21.
Kevin Durant has had a complicated relationship with acceptance since he descended to the Bay Area.
Though he won two titles, accomplishing a goal he summoned would end all criticisms of his game, he ultimately never fulfilled his inner purpose of being a part of the Golden State family.
"I’ll never be one of those guys," Durant told the Wall Street Journal last fall. "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."
Durant's disposition was evident throughout his Warriors tenure, causing the forward to go through unique measures. Nonetheless, his place in Warriors lore is unquestioned, even if he sometimes doesn't feel the sentiment.
Durant's arrival to Golden State in July 2016 came under controversial circumstances. Just over a month prior, his Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated by his new employer after leading the series, three-game-to-one.
Criticism of Durant's decision were rampant. How could Durant, a top-three player in the league who built a franchise from the ground, leave and join the team that beat him to form the biggest Goliath at the peak of their run? How could he take the easy route, joining the best offense of the modern era?
It wasn't supposed to be this way, NBA observers thought. A player of Durant's caliber wasn't supposed to jump ship to a superior team, teaming up with two generational shooters and a team on the brink of a title. Never mind that LeBron James had built a superteam in Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade six years prior. Or the Celtics had acquired All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008, teaming the duo with All-Star small forward Paul Pierce.
The league is built on talent, but the Warriors had too much of it.
Durant and the Warriors flexed that talent in the first year, winning 67 games and posting a 15-1 record in the playoffs. In the NBA Finals, Durant outplayed James, averaging 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists. A year later, he dominated again, helping the Warriors sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals.
Along the way, Durant's disposition continued to appear. In his book "Victory Machine," Ethan Strauss reported that Durant frequently direct messaged fans, complaining that fans preferred Curry over him. He also was known to send direct messages to beat writers and radio hosts if he didn't agree with their coverage of him.
But his uncertainty blinded the pursuit of a goal he was already achieving: Being accepted as a Warriors legend.
Durant earned the distinction by helping the Warriors beat the Cavs in two straight Finals. He earned it by helping the Warriors beat Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, scoring 21 of his team-high 34 points in the second half, helping the Warriors overcome a 15-point deficit. And it was stamped following his departure to Brooklyn when Warriors chairman Joe Lacob stated that no other player will don his number 35.
Even as he rehabs and preps for his Brooklyn debut, he acknowledges his importance to the Bay, signaling recognition of his status in Warriors history.
"I really felt like I stamped myself as a legend in the Bay. You look at -- I'm not comparing myself to these guys, but guys that won in the Bay like Jerry Rice and Joe Montana," he said on Showtime's "All the Smoke Podcast." "Won back-to-back in the Bay ... it's like s--t, that's forever.
"So I'm really proud of that."