Count Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce among the players who have weighed in on Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors.
It’s a list that is sure to grow as this NBA season kicks off and rolls along, given the seismic shift that Durant’s free agent decision sparked.
Pierce, himself the recipient of superstar help when he was in Boston and joined by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the same offseason — a union that produced a championship and years of being a contender for the Celtics, questioned Durant’s decision during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio:
I’m an old-school guy. I’m a competitor. I never believed that - when you want to be the best, you’ve to beat the best. That’s always been something that’s driven me. Today’s day and age, a lot of these guys are friends. That’s like if Bird decided to go play with Magic or something. These guys, I think the competition makes the game what is.
And Oklahoma, I felt like, was a contending team. They had Golden State on the ropes. I understand when you have great players on losing teams who are tired of losing, struggling in the playoffs every year. You’re the lone star. I’ve been in that position. I could have left Boston years ago, but I stuck it out. I just feel like when you’re that close, as a competitor, you don’t go join the team that just put you out.
That’s just me personally, but we’re living in a day and time where there’s a new generation. Guys I don’t think they are as hungry or competitive as my generation was, and that’s why you’ll probably see more of that.
Those are strong words from one of the league’s most respected players, a Finals MVP and champion who announced last month that this would be his final season.
You could argue that it’s as big a compliment as it is a slight, comparing Durant and two-time KIA MVP Stephen Curry to icons like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
Pierce’s Clippers will be one of the team’s that challenges Durant and the Warriors this season for supremacy in the Western Conference. It’s a rivalry that already has plenty of fuel from the past few seasons.
This latest hit certainly will add to it for Durant and his new teammates.