As I walked through the Fifth Avenue Niketown store yesterday during the release of the new KD9’s, it finally hit me. There’s no way in hell that Kevin Durant will go back home and play for the Washington Wizards.
I was always pessimistic regarding the #KD2DC hoopla which emerged two years ago when Durant hinted that it might be cool to come back home and play in front of his hometown fans. LeBron James did it at the peak of his career so Durant might be more inclined to, right?
Over the past 10-15 years, the DMV went from a non-factor in the High School and AAU circuit to a basketball factory churning out college and NBA players left and right. Outside of Kevin Durant, some notable players from the DMV area include Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay, Greivis Vazquez, Victor Oladipo, and Michael Beasley. Let’s not forget Grant Hill who was also a force to be reckoned with in the late 90’s and early to mid 2000’s.
As I approached the store, I couldn’t see the end of the line to get in as it wrapped around the city block. Men, Women, Boys, Girls, Kids, Teens, Adults all lined up to be one of the firsts to buy a pair of the KD9’s.
It occurred to me that Kevin Durant’s brand is way larger than I envisioned and if his new shoe release had people waiting for hours just to gain entry to a shoe store, why would he need to come back home to play in Washington? Durant plays in by far, the smallest NBA metropolis but is able to keep people waiting for hours on end just to purchase his new shoe. He doesn’t need the big city glitz and glamour, as he’s become arguably the third most recognizable NBA player all while playing in a small market.
He has a major shoe deal, is easily recognizable, and has a very strong brand. So why on earth would he come back to play in Washington, D.C.? He doesn’t and probably won’t play in D.C. during his NBA career.
As Kevin Durant enters his 10th season, he’s amassed many awards; MVP, Scoring Title, and an Olympic Gold Medal. But there’s one thing missing; an NBA championship. After the Thunder traded away Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo on draft night, the Thunder would boast the best NBA roster (on paper) were Durant to re-sign in Oklahoma City. In addition, Durant plans to meet with the Warriors, Spurs, Celtics, Heat, and Clippers. All are teams who are in a much better position to win a championship than the Washington Wizards.
As it stands, the only Wizards’ piece that would appear attractive to Durant is playing alongside dynamic point guard, John Wall. Wall has many similarities to Durant’s teammate Russell Westbrook but is a pass first point guard. If Durant were to sign in Washington, there wouldn’t be any question as to whose team it is.
But what about playing in front of his family and friends? That’s a lot of pressure. And the number of ticket requests, people asking for photos, autographs, etc. would skyrocket. Most iconic NBA players don’t feel the need to play in front of their family and friends for reasons listed above. Outside of LeBron James, there aren’t many who have returned home during the peak of their career. Could Durant return home years from now after he’s accomplished his goal of winning an NBA title? Sure. But by that point, he’ll be way past his prime.
Durant’s brand is booming and he’s arguably the third best player in the NBA. The only thing missing from his resume is an NBA championship. Currently, the Wizards are far from accomplishing that feat. So why would he want to come home?