Warriors

Warriors GM Bob Myers bids farewell to Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala

Warriors GM Bob Myers bids farewell to Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala

OAKLAND – In his first open media availability since free agency opened on June 30, Warriors general manager Bob Myers spent less time during a 21-minute session Monday talking about those coming to the franchise than the one who left.

Myers clearly was more comfortable extoling the virtues of a proven commodity, such as Kevin Durant, than speculating on what will come from a roster remade by necessity when he left.

Durant’s departure is bittersweet not only to Myers but also every team employee because it closes the most revered chapter in Warriors history. Myers conveyed as much to Durant when they met in New York before KD announced his decision to join the Brooklyn Nets.

“To be honest, I was kind of sad. I was kind of sad,” Myers said. “I was. Because I like him. I like basketball. And, so, just to watch him play was a treat for me. Just to watch him practice, to watch him work out. I’ll miss that. Just as a basketball fan. Guys like him don’t come along too often. His skill set, his ability, is so unique. I got to see him up close, for three years of my life. I’ll always remember that.

“I have a peace about it, personally. I hope our fans can too. In the annals of Bay Area sports, he’s one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen come through our city, certainly this organization.”

This warm current of appreciation runs through the franchise, whether it’s CEO Joe Lacob last week vowing to retire Durant’s No. 35 or team leader Stephen Curry expressing it during a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe over the weekend.

"The three years we had were special,” Curry told reporters at Tahoe. “We had three straight Finals appearances and won two of them. We accomplished a lot as a group.

“Everybody talks about the amount of talent that we had on our team. But that doesn't guarantee that you can figure it out on the court, that you can put all the pieces together to be successful. I'm really proud of what we accomplished.”

With Durant on the roster, the Warriors went to three consecutive NBA Finals, winning two, with KD being named the MVP in both of those occasions. The Warriors were 182-64 (.740 winning percentage) in the regular season, rising to 46-14 (.766) in the postseason. They were 10-5 in The Finals -- 1-4 without Durant.

The Warriors were, depending on one’s perspective, either the pride or the scourge of the NBA. With Durant joining Draymond Green -- his initial recruiter -- Klay Thompson and Curry, Warriors coach Steve Kerr could lean on four All-Stars. With their profile reaching heights no NBA franchise has known in the age of rampant social media, they conceivably were the most hated and most loved team in sports. National news outlets, for the first time, moved reporters to the Bay Area for the specific purpose of covering the Warriors.

That era ended earlier this month, when Durant left, followed by veteran mainstay and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, it brought down the curtain on one of the most impressive runs the NBA has known -- and easily the greatest in franchise history.

“It’s very difficult,” Myers said. “Those are people I like. Those are people I still like. Those memories, those relationships don’t change just because they’re going to go work for a different company or a different team. What we shared -- whether it’s myself, or their teammates, or anybody in the organization -- that doesn’t go away.

“That hurts. Those things hurt. If they don’t hurt, then I guess you never had a relationship with those guys in the first place.”

Iguodala’s arrival in 2014 signaled a change in fortunes for the Warriors. They were, for the first time in franchise history, a destination for a high-quality player with the right to choose. KD’s arrival two years later was a tonic for fans despondent after losing the 2016 Finals. July 4, 2016 was, and will forever be, the day the Warriors fans thought they’d never see.

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A highly coveted superstar, with the right to choose his employer, chose their favorite team.

“I just appreciate it," said Myers, who grew up in the East Bay. “Growing up here, the fact that Kevin Durant wore a Warriors uniform for three years, to me that’s pretty cool, whether I’m here in the position I’m in or just a Warriors fan.”

Kevin Durant’s first NBA title actually was start of his Warriors end

Kevin Durant’s first NBA title actually was start of his Warriors end

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Warriors' 2017 NBA Finals-clinching win over the Cavs tonight at 8 PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

A black Tesla carrying precious cargo stopped in the crowded Oracle Arena parking lot hours after the Warriors won the 2017 NBA Finals, at the insistence of one Kevin Durant.

Carrying his first of two NBA Finals MVP trophies, clad in his first championship hat, Durant walked into the crowd, basking in his biggest personal conquest to date.

On the surface, Durant simultaneously had reached his personal and professional mountaintops. Eleven months removed from his departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder, he had exorcised the manufactured demons that come with nine title-less seasons. His summer signing with the Warriors in 2016 solidified one of the greatest collections of talent in NBA history.

Hours before his parking-lot party, Durant capped a series by outplaying LeBron James, the league's best player and his biggest on-court rival, over the five-game series. But the moment, as Durant and the Warriors found out years later, never yielded the long-term happiness he believed it would.

Durant came to the Bay in search of happiness months after his last season with the Thunder.

Initially, Oklahoma City embraced him. Off the court, he returned the favor, donating more than $1 million toward disaster relief efforts following a tornado in 2013. On the court, Durant was just as giving, helping the Thunder reach the playoffs seven times, including a Finals appearance in 2012. Along the way, he formed one of the league's formidable duos with Russell Westbrook. But, after nine seasons, Durant felt he wanted more, heading West to find fulfillment alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Green's role in Durant's psyche was noteworthy. The Warriors forward recruited Durant for much of the 2015-16 season, even as the Thunder positioned themselves as the defending champs' biggest Western Conference adversary. Green continued his push after the Warriors' loss to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, admitting he called Durant, pleading for him to head West, and again during the team's pitch meeting one month later in The Hamptons.

Green's prodding from the West Coast made sense soon after Durant left the Plains for the Bay. Immediately after he announced his departure, bedlam commenced in Oklahoma City. Reports of people burning jerseys surprised even Durant.

"I really didn’t think it was that serious until I started to see the backlash and see the hateful things that people were saying," Durant said in 2017. "It’s just continually bad, it’s just still hate. It is just pure hate."

The city's vitriol continued in Durant's return as an opponent. Cupcake shirts were the desired dress code at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and boos rang every time Durant touched the ball. The energy was so palpable that Durant's new teammates even jawed with fans courtside, puzzling him even more.

"I understand in a basketball sense that you want to be so loyal to your team, and you want to feel like you’re a part of something, because everybody wants to feel like they’re a part of something," Durant added in 2017. "So, I understood that part, but it’s got to the point now, it’s like, now it’s getting big.

"Like, come on man, what are we even talking about this for? This is basketball, I’m enjoying myself playing basketball. What you say and what you do is not affecting my work. That’s the most important thing is the work."

Durant's new address yielded success on and off the floor. The Warriors were flawless during the regular season, finishing with a league-best 67-15 record. That dominance continued in the playoffs, as the Warriors posted a 16-1 record, dismantling every team in its wake.

Along the way, Durant made his most convincing bid for status of the league's best player, averaging 25 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game through the first three rounds. He outplayed James in the Finals, capped by a dagger 3-pointer in his rival's face in Game 3, all but sealing his first title.

But in the days after Durant's first championship parade, things began to change for him. In the ensuing years, the bonds he built began to deteriorate. His mother, Wanda, a mainstay at Oracle Arena during his first season in Oakland, had financial disagreements with her son, according to the Wall Street Journal, and rarely came around as she and his brother, Wayne, retreated back East.

On the court, even after Durant claimed his second title over James and the Cavs, his relationship with Green took a hit, as a verbal sideline spat during a game against the Clippers in Los Anglees defined his headline-plagued final Warriors season. Durant became more distant from his teammates. Then, the player who once came to the Bay seeking a family environment left feeling like distant kinfolk.

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"I’ll never be one of those guys," Durant told the Wall Street Journal in September. "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 is basketball's superstar nomad. Since high school, Oklahoma City marked the only place that saw his talents for more than three years. In Golden State, he said he wanted to play in a system suited for his game, for a team on the rise. Now, he's hoping to win alongside friends Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn.

But as Durant learned in the days after he exited that Tesla in 2017, his true happiness will come from within, and no trophy or accolade can ever fill that void.

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks forward to guarding James Harden

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks forward to guarding James Harden

James Harden scored 29 points on 16 field-goal attempts the last time the Warriors faced the Houston Rockets back on Feb. 20. Houston won that game 135-105, and it sounds like Golden State's Juan Toscano-Anderson was looking forward to the rematch.

With the NBA season indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Toscano-Anderson and the Warriors have some free time on their hands. Toscano-Anderson made use of it by holding a Q&A on Twitter on Saturday night, at which time he was asked which player -- whether teammate or opponent -- he was most looking forward to playing with or against when the season starts back up.

Toscano-Anderson provided multiple answers.

"Excited to get our whole team back to full strength," Toscano-Anderson replied. "I was very excited to guard James Harden."

Well, you've got to appreciate the fact that he's not afraid of a challenge. There might not be a tougher player to guard than Harden in the entire league, but then again, Toscano-Anderson didn't finally establish himself as an NBA player this season by taking the easy way out.

[RELATED: Toscano-Anderson reveals all-time Warriors starting five]

The Warriors and Rockets were scheduled to play each other for a fourth and final time this season in Houston on April 2. Obviously, that particular game won't take place on that day, but whether it is postponed or canceled, Toscano-Anderson surely will have more opportunities to try to make things harder on Harden.