The highest honor for the face of a franchise- a superstar-is for that franchise to commission a statue of his likeness. A sculpted bronze rendering in front of an arena is a personal shrine to history. It says: you did this. You were here over time and excelled.
A statue is greater than a retired jersey because except for the Lakers, NBA organizations retire jerseys of impact players as well as superstar players. (The Lakers only retire Hall of Famer jerseys).
But a statue is reserved for the elite of the elite, players that dominated their position and their era, and represented a city and delivered exceptionalism for the franchise over time. Just winning titles isn’t good enough. You have to have bled for the franchise year in and year out, in the lean years and in the special years. The statue is a reflection of personal and professional sacrifice. You didn’t flee. You didn’t run. You stuck.
Does that sound like Kevin Durant?
Recently, he spoke of a statue of himself- humility be damned- outside of Chase Arena in San Francisco to acknowledge his contributions to the Warriors, specifically the possible 3-peat of Durant, Steph,Klay and Draymond, as if it is a done deal they will win in 2019.
But to keep it real this is why Durant ditched Russell Westbrook so he could engage in such long term fantasies. It sounds pretty reasonable except Durant has forgotten the fine print. Statues go to players who have blood, sweat and tears locked up in a franchise. They have given everything for years.
Three years in Oakland doesn’t really count. That’s a short vacay and not enough time for Durant to own any Warriors records. Decades from now when looking at his Warriors stats, strangers to this era are going to know the Finals MVP and the titles but Warrior records will have someone else’s name. (Like Wilt Chamerlain, Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond, Steph Curry).
Statues ( A Sampling)
Kareem Abdul Jabaar franchise records (Lakers). 1st in offensive and defensive rebounds, blocks, Defensive Win Shares, field goals and 2-Pt Field Goals. 1,093 games.
Michael Jordan franchise records (Bulls). 1st in games played, minutes played, field goals, 2-point field goals, free throws, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists, points, points per game, steals per game, PER, Offensive Win Shares, Defensive Win Shares. 1072 games.
Karl Malone franchise records (Jazz). 1st in minutes played, field goals, 2-pt field goals, free throws, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, points, Defensive Win Shares, Win Shares. 1,434 games.
Bill Russell franchise records (Celtics). 1st in rebounds, minutes, rebounds per game, Defensive Win Shares, Win Shares. 963 games.
Dominique Wilkins franchise records (Hawks). 1stin games, minutes played, field goals, 2-pt field goals, points, points per game. 882 games.
Durant is 1st in Usage Rate. That’s it. He’s 2nd in points per game and PER. He’s 3rd in free throw percentage. He’s not in the top-10 of Warriors in Win Shares.
Kevin Durant is responsible for the Warriors two NBA Finals wins but how responsible is debatable considering the Warriors won a ring without him. But if he wants a statue in San Francisco he needs 5-6 more years in the Bay, a couple of more titles and a lot more franchise records.
Durant vs. Warriors franchise history? He comes up small. But I feel for KD, really. The narrative players are saddled with, what great players are chasing, is all about winning a title and then immediately rare air is the oxygen you breathe.
After two titles, Durant is still getting disrespect for how he left his previous employer. The title(s) have not made him more beloved or great. The burner accounts, the refusing to sign a long term deal, a supposed rift with Draymond Green, the sense that this may be it for Durant, the chasing whatever it is he is chasing, has put Durant on an island.
He’s great. Very, very great. But he has to stay in one place for the rest of his career for anyone to think about a statue for Kevin Durant. You can’t be a rental and then expect a statue.