By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]

Kevin Durant has made a living taking big shots and winning championships. However, as the NBA’s free agency period began, the-two time NBA Finals most valuable player took another big shot, leaving the Golden State Warriors to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

Durant reportedly signed a four-year deal worth $164 million. Had he re-signed with Golden State, the 10-time NBA All-Star was eligible for a five-year deal worth $221 million. 

Kevin Durant announced that he signed a four-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets on June 30. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Durant made the announcement June 30 on the Instagram page for The Boardroom, an online series looking at sports business produced by he and his business partner Rich Kleiman. However, he probably won’t be seen on the floor in New York’s largest borough for at least one year after rupturing his achilles tendon during game five of the NBA Finals.

The reverberations of Durant’s cross-country departure are being felt throughout the Association. Despite his extended recovery time, Suitland, Md., native is still one of the top players in the sport. Most basketball observers agree that despite his severe injury, giving Durant $41 million to rehab for a year is worth the risk even if he’s not the player he was when this past year’s playoffs started. However, Durant has missed 43 games – which is equivalent to more than half an NBA season – over the last three years.

In his first free agency move, Durant joined the Warriors and was the missing link for a team that was looking to regain its status as a world champion. For the last five years, Golden State has been a fixture in the NBA Finals and he was the missing link for back-to-back championships. 

Durant’s impact on the organization was so profound, Warriors guard Steph Curry flew from Shanghai, China to New York so he could thank his now former teammate for helping them carve their place in basketball history.

However, as he comes to Brooklyn, Durant is the face of the Nets and is their leader even though it will be from the training room. Durant is known as a great teammate who has taken control in championship moments.  The concern for Brooklyn will be how he and Kyrie Irving will coexist under the leadership umbrella off Broadway when he returns.

Irving has established an alternate brand through his movie {Uncle Drew}. He hit the game-winning shot to bring LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA championship in 2016. But after winning the championship his relationship disintegrated with James and he was traded to Boston. There, he allegedly alienated several teammates in the locker room. Imaginably, the Celtics are breathing a sigh of relief now that he’s gone through free agency. When Durant returns, the working relationship between he and Irving could put a strain on their friendship. Irving will be the ball dominant presence when the game is on the line for an entire season and will have to defer. 

 Durant and Irving have a relationship after playing for Team USA in the Olympics and are supposedly great friends.  The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson reported that Durant’s decision to leave $96 million in guaranteed money in the Bay Area was to play with his “homie.”  They both can be surly with the media and the polarizing glare of that spotlight will make for something interesting to watch while they deal with the New York press.

Durant was annoyed for much of the last season while national media was focusing on this pending business decision. If he wins a championship in Brooklyn, the Nets become the most attractive pro basketball team in New York and Durant is king.