Having lost Kevin Durant in free agency to Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors announced Monday that Durant’s number-35 jersey will be effectively retired, for as long as Joe Lacob is in control of the team:
It’s worth noting, here, that they’re retiring the jersey of a guy who took a kerjillion dollar discount on what could be his last long-term contract, to leave Golden State and join up with cosmic-brained Kyrie Irving and a washed-up DeAndre Jordan.
Retiring the jersey of an active player who was only with your team for three seasons of a mid-career ring-chasing venture is an unusual move. Some part of this, though, has got to be guilt and gratitude over exactly how Durant’s time in Golden State ended. The Achilles tendon injury Durant suffered in the Finals at least appears to have been the result of Durant returning to the court in a vulnerable condition while recovering from what the team described as a calf injury suffered in the divisional round of the playoffs. That looks like a real bad “oops” by the Warriors, and Durant could’ve exercised his player option for next season, stuck in Golden State, and had the Warriors pay him $31 million to rehab his leg ahead of free agency next summer. Not only did he spare them that expense, he also put the Nets on the hook for the cost of discovering whether a 32-year-old post-crabmeat Durant will still be worth a damn. History suggests the Warriors are very lucky to not be the team taking that gamble. Among everything else the Warriors have to be grateful for, Durant might’ve saved them from themselves.
If nothing else, this move now sort of locks the Warriors into retiring a lot of jerseys. Durant was there for three years, won a pair of titles, and won two Finals MVPs. Andre Iguodala was there for six seasons, won three titles, and won one Finals MVP, as an integral part of this entire era of Warriors dominance. Iguodala was traded away to the Grizzlies over the weekend to facilitate the acquisition of D’Angelo Russell—now that Iguodala’s a former Warrior the team will surely announce the retirement of his number-nine jersey any time now.