6 Oklahoma City Thunder players who turned their back on the franchise

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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No. 1: Kevin Durant

This was always going to be the final entry on this list. The very concept of a star player turning his back on a franchse is best illustrated by the departure of MVP forward Kevin Durant, who chose to chase a ring somewhere other than the only NBA home he had ever know.

Durant was not only one of the handful of best players in the entire NBA; he was synonymous with Oklahoma City and the Thunder as a franchise and an entity. He was the burgeoning young star who came over with the team, and he had been through everything with his team. They had nearly won it all, not once but twice, and Durant had hoisted the MVP trophy in an emotional ceremony that famously praised his mother but also spoke of a deep connection with the Thunder franchise.

Then the summer of 2016 hit, and Durant made full use of his power in unrestricted free agency. He allowed the entire NBA to woo him, holding court in the Hamptons. A number of teams felt they had a shot at Durant, and the Thunder were always in the mix but ultimately left at the altar.

Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors and would go on to win two titles and make the NBA Finals three times in three years before he would jump ship again to the Brooklyn Nets. Then in 2023 he jumped ship again. Such movement isn't as frowned upon in the modern NBA, but it's certainly eye-raising that Durant has never found a long-term home.

The greatest player in franchise history led the way for a number of players to spurn the Thunder, and part of the magic of the Thunder's growth in the present into a contender is finally moving on from the pain of Durant leaving and taking away their upside to be a title contender.

Now, finally, the Thunder can overcome Durant turning his back on them. His abandonment ranks first on our list of the Thunder players who walked out on the franchise.