Should DC be happy for KD?

WASHINGTON — It’s good to be Kevin Durant.

He danced with his mother under confetti. He got the last laugh over Rihanna. He got to hang out with the legendary Bill Russell before winning the award that bears his name. The Suitland, Maryland, native even took the time to shout out his hometown during the on-court celebration of the Golden State Warriors’ 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals that finally made Durant a champion in his 10th NBA season.

The man labeled “KD” was the no-brainer choice for MVP of the series, averaging 35.2 points (on an incredible 56 percent shooting from the floor, 47 percent from deep and 93 percent at the line), 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1 steal per game. He became just the third player in NBA history to win the award in his first year with his team and finished two points shy of the Finals record for most points scored in a five-game series.

But wait, there’s more: Durant is also the third player in NBA history to win at least four scoring titles and an NBA title, and the first player in 15 years to score 30 or more points in every game of an NBA Finals series. KD was consistently and thoroughly great in the playoffs, the leading scorer on a team that set an NBA record by going 16-1 in the postseason by an average margin of 13.5 points per game (second-best in NBA history).

However, many outside Oakland were less than impressed.

And yes, that includes Durant’s hometown market here in D.C.

Let’s start with the local angle — Durant doesn’t owe D.C. anything.

Having grown up here, he’s well aware that the Wizards have been irrelevant for most of the last four decades. Last summer, Washington was coming off a 41-41 non-playoff season that got their coach fired in favor of the guy Durant’s old team fired for not delivering a championship to Oklahoma City. Does that sound like the best landing spot for a guy hungry for a ring?

Nope. And as such, Durant did us all a favor and saved us from getting our hopes up. So D.C. fans shouldn’t be dismissing Durant. They should be embracing the best player to come out of the so-called “DMV” in decades and the first from the D.C. area to win NBA Finals MVP. If he’s not going to play in Washington, he can at least play for Washington.

Now for the frustratingly inaccurate “tainted title” logic. Durant didn’t piggyback his way to his first title. He wasn’t the sixth man or a fourth option on an already loaded Warriors squad. He came to a team that won an NBA-record 73 games last season and immediately became their best player. Not only are the NBA Finals still going on if KD weren’t in Golden State, the Cavaliers might actually have repeated as champs. Discounting how tough it is to integrate a player of Durant’s caliber on an already established team is shortsighted.

And, of course, let’s not forget actual logic.

Durant didn’t string Oklahoma City and/or Washington along like LeBron James did Cleveland with “The Decision,” nor did he do anything outside of the rules. KD simply chose to take his talents to the city where he had the best chance to win a championship. How quickly we forget LeBron has done so twice.

That’s why I find it crazy to somehow jump on Durant for making an informed — and obviously correct — choice. There are no style points for championships. You either have one or you don’t. Ask Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, John Stockton and Karl Malone if they’d like a “tainted” ring. In fact, many forget Barkley and Malone actually did chase one late in their careers, to no avail.

Let’s dust off the Golden Rule and apply this logic to our lives. Would you turn down a big promotion with more opportunity for upward growth simply because it looks better on your resume to finish what you started with your current employer? I’ve been critical of ESPN for years (hell, I just spent a whole column criticizing them last week) but if you think I’d turn down their money, you’re dead wrong. Everyone should have the right to try and improve their lot in life, personally and professionally. Don’t think athletes are somehow exempt from this.

Does joining a “superteam” hurt KD’s case in the debate for greatest of all-time? Probably. But having a ring gets him in the conversation, and titles matter more for that conversation in the NBA than in any other sport. Instead of nitpicking how Durant has arrived, we should all just sit back and appreciate the fact that the seeds of his greatness were planted in our own backyard.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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