By Stephen D. Riley, Special to AFRO

“The Bay Area allows me to be who I am, as a city, to just blend in, and the team allows me to do the same thing,” Maryland native and the ultimate LeBron counter, Kevin Durant told Yahoo Sports this weekend. I sulked miserably after I heard the news. I thought Durant would win a couple of titles and then bolt for new grounds (still praying for the Wizards) to lead his own mob similar to how LeBron James left Miami to put Cleveland on the map.

But no. Sadly, Durant’s comfortable being just one of the guys and that sucks for a player of his talent.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant speaks during a news conference following Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals early Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Cleveland. The Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 to take the title. Durant was named MVP of the finals. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

He’s made it clear his critics don’t matter. Durant doesn’t care what we think of his west side move and that’s good for him but it stinks for the NBA. Title No. 2 in tow and LeBron swept away, Durant’s sitting pretty right now. Probably not as attractive as the original Warrior trio of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who became three-time title toters on Friday after sinking Cleveland and just appear more natural in their gold and yellow duds. Even with back-to-back Finals MVPs, it’s just something off with seeing Durant celebrate with the rest of the Golden State clan.

Durant doesn’t belong in Golden State and it’s as simple as that.

LeBron wasn’t a natural Miami Heat(er) but he made it pop. He lit South Beach on fire for four years and helped form an all-star band with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that mesmerized the Association. It was easier to to digest LeBron in Miami because the Heat were still vulnerable. They weren’t cranking off 73-win seasons and finishing .500 in Finals play. They were mortal. This Warriors team on the other hand is practically unbeatable. They’re too good. They’re exciting but they’ve made the league boring.

According to Durant however, none of that is his problem. “I’m not worried about the NBA. That’s their job,” Durant said. Every word making me sicker. “They make too much money. They ain’t paying me enough to dictate the NBA. I should be making more money if all that’s on me. My responsibility is to whatever team I play for. All that other stuff, that’s on y’all.”

I guess we’re trapped. Stuck in a world where, barring injury, the NBA will be sewn up for the next several seasons until the Warriors can’t pay guys anymore. The sad part is; the Warriors would probably still be in this glory even without Durant. Miami needed LeBron to win titles. Golden State didn’t need Durant, but they’ll gladly take him. There’s a core of friends in every neighborhood that had to add an outsider because he/she brought something extra to the table. Whether it’s the pseudo-friend with the car, the friend who can get beer with the fake ID or the friend who has the house with no parents home for the weekend, that pseudo-friend understands the dynamics and their role. They understand that they weren’t there early on but they’re there now. That guy is Durant and he’s happy with that. Much to my chagrin.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO