July 4th, 2016, was a day that OKC Thunder fans would remember in infamy. Not only was this supposed to be a day of excitement for the celebration of Independence Day. It was to be the day that Kevin Durant re-upped with the OKC Thunder.
Ultimately we all know how this scenario played out. Durant left for the team that OKC blew a 3-1 lead against in the playoffs, a club that won 73 games that year in Golden State.
After eight seasons with OKC, Durant decided he wanted more shooters around him and needed a change of scenery. To OKC fan’s dismay, Durant went on to win a ring with Golden State the following season. Almost all Thunder fans will agree that he was supposed to have accomplished this feat in Thunder Blue.
Meanwhile, 2,000 miles away, a Greek forward for the Milwaukee Bucks was diligently working to capture that elusive championship for his small-market franchise.
This year, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered by seizing Milwaukee’s first championship since 1971.
OKC Thunder: Loyalty with a small market is rare in today’s game
There is the nagging question of “what if?” that surrounds this OKC franchise. Is it the Seattle curse? Is it the Sam Presti way of valuing “people over players,” as he stated during a press conference following the NBA draft with the introduction for this year’s rookie class? When one could argue that players win championships, people do not.
There are many questions about what the OKC Thunder could have done differently to keep Durant locked in as a Thunder lifer. Still, he ultimately won two rings with a super-team, whereas Giannis captured his first ring with the team he was drafted by in 2013.
Merely two players from that 2013 roster ultimately stayed with Milwaukee to win the elusive Larry O’Brien trophy, Giannis and Khris Middleton.
The tweet shown above is the sentiment that Giannis expressed shortly after Durant won his first title with the Warriors.
As Giannis lifted the trophy on July 20th, I could not help but think about Kevin Durant and what the OKC Thunder would have accomplished had he not fled to Oakland back in 2016.
The same night the Bucks won the title, I remember tweeting out, “This is what loyalty looks like, Mr. Durant,” as I watched Giannis and the Bucks celebrate their first title in exactly 50 years.
This tweet prompted the idea of “what if’s” that TI will cover in this article.
Let’s take a look!