The year that changed Kevin Durant forever

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As Kevin Durant stepped on the court for the 2015-2016 NBA season, he knew that the stakes were high. He had just signed with the Golden State Warriors, and all eyes were on him to lead the team to victory. Little did he know, this year would change him forever.

Durant was already a superstar in the league, with four scoring titles and an MVP under his belt. But something was missing. He had never won an NBA championship, and that was what he craved more than anything. So when the Warriors came calling in the summer of 2016, he knew it was his chance to finally achieve that dream.

The start of the season was rocky for the Warriors, with Durant and the team struggling to find their chemistry on the court. But as they worked through their issues, things started to click. The team began to play with an unshakeable confidence, and Durant emerged as a true leader on and off the court.

As the playoffs approached, Durant and the Warriors hit their stride. They swept their way through the first three rounds, dominating each opponent that stood in their way. And finally, they found themselves in the NBA Finals, facing off against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The series was intense, with both teams battling fiercely for every point. But Durant was on a mission. He had never been so focused, so driven to win. He put on a performance for the ages, averaging 35.2 points per game and leading the Warriors to a 4-1 series victory.

When the final buzzer sounded, Durant was overcome with emotion. He had done it. He was an NBA champion. But as he celebrated with his teammates, he knew that this year had changed him forever.

For Durant, the championship wasn’t just a validation of his talent, it was a validation of his decision to join the Warriors. He had taken a lot of heat for leaving his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and joining a powerhouse like Golden State. But the championship proved to his doubters that he had made the right choice.

But it wasn’t just about the validation. This year had taught Durant something even more important: the power of teamwork. As he put it in an interview with The Players’ Tribune, “I learned that basketball isn’t about individual accolades, it’s about playing as a team and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Durant became a different player after that championship year. He went from being a scorer to being a complete player, a leader on the court who was just as concerned with setting up his teammates for success as he was with putting points on the board. He no longer played for himself, but for the team.

And that team-first mentality paid off in a big way the following season. The Warriors once again made it to the NBA Finals, facing off against the same Cleveland Cavaliers team they had beaten the previous year. This time, they swept their opponents, with Durant once again putting up big numbers and earning his second consecutive Finals MVP award.

But it wasn’t just about the wins and the accolades. For Durant, it was about the relationships he had formed along the way. He had grown close with his teammates, especially Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. They had become like brothers to him, and he knew he had found a home in Golden State.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. Durant faced criticism from fans and media alike for his decision to join the Warriors, and he struggled with his own doubts and insecurities. But through it all, he remained true to himself and to his team, and it paid off in the end.

Looking back on that championship year, Durant is grateful for everything it taught him. He knows that without the struggles and the challenges, he wouldn’t be the player or the person he is today. He’s proud of what he and his team accomplished, but he’s even prouder of the journey they took to get there.

In the end, the year that changed Kevin Durant forever wasn’t just about the championship. It was about the growth and the transformation that came along with it. It was about the lessons he learned, the relationships he formed, and the person he became. And in that sense, it was a year that changed all of us, as we watched one of the greatest players in NBA history become something even greater.