Nets' Kevin Durant on Leaving Warriors: 'I Just Wanted to Play Ball Somewhere Else'

Adam WellsDecember 23, 2022

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 18: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on December 18, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Two days after playing against his former team, Kevin Durant spoke out about his decision to leave the Golden State Warriors as a free agent in the summer of 2019.

Speaking to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Durant acknowledged he just wanted to try something new when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets:

"It was another pivot. I just wanted to play ball somewhere else. But a lot of people see it as I'm chasing something. And I think it probably stems when I said, 'I don't want to be number two no more.' I was number two in high school, in the draft. But what I had to explain to people was, I had just lost in the Finals. I wanted to go back and win the Finals. It wasn't about: 'I want to be the best ever. I want to be better than LeBron or [Michael Jordan].' I don't give a s--t about that. I want to wake up every day and do what I do. If we win, I know that stuff comes with me being the best that I can be."

It had been assumed for much of Durant's final season with the Warriors that he was looking to move on.

After the two-time NBA Finals MVP was involved in a shouting match with Draymond Green during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers early in the 2018-19 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium noted it had been a "simmering issue" and Green challenged his teammate about his impending free agency.

Green told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the All the Smoke podcast in April 2020 he was "struggling" with Durant early in that season.

"Beginning of the year, I told (Warriors general manager) Bob (Myers) and (coach) Steve (Kerr): 'I'm struggling with Kevin right now. I need some help. It's frustrating and I need some help.' Nobody did s--t. So I'm kind of stuck in this position, but aight," Green said (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area).

The Warriors were able to put aside their issues to reach the NBA Finals. Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 against the Toronto Raptors, followed by Klay Thompson tearing his ACL in Game 6.

Toronto won the series in six games, ending Golden State's quest for a threepeat. Durant signed with the Nets a few weeks later.

The Warriors turned out to be OK as they went on to win the 2021-22 NBA title after defeating the Boston Celtics in six games.