Impending free agent Kevin Durant has long been rumored to be a potential target for both of New York’s NBA franchises, yet the New York Knicks may be a perfect fit for surprising reasons.
The Golden State Warriors have become one of the most recognizable franchises throughout the world. With a foundation of generational talent and the marketing of a Silicon Valley company, the Warriors have undisputedly established themselves as one of the league’s most dominant dynasties. Despite the Warriors ability to construct a historically loaded super team, it is possible the consequences of the creation of the current roster may lead to their downfall.
Andre Iguodala, a well-respected veteran and a key contributor to the Warriors recent championship squads, stated in an interview that the team had “priced our real fans out.” The Warriors had become similar to the tech startups that were being built beside them. The franchise experienced unprecedented success at the expense of its loyal Bay Area fanbase. The arena had become an exclusive club intended to provide entertainment to clients of large corporations, and many dedicated fans could no longer afford to attend games.
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How does a potential disconnect between the Warriors fanbase and the franchise, due to their elevated status and pricing, affect Kevin Durant‘s free agent decision?
If there is one thing that can be said of the Durant, it is that he cares about his public perception. He is clearly an individual who wants to be appreciated for his worldly abilities. Durant also recently provided a sizable donation to a non-profit organization focused on assisting local students in getting into college, within his hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland. One could derive from both Durant’s concern for his image, as well as his personal value of community, that the Warriors transition from Oakland inspiration to San Francisco corporation could also mark the end of Durant’s time in the Bay.
I’m sure what most readers are likely thinking, the Knicks are one of the biggest brands in sports, constantly increasing the prices of tickets and merchandise in an effort to maximize the city’s market. Furthermore, doesn’t Knicks “governor” Jim Dolan represent a greedy opposite to the lack of care for community Durant may be searching for?
The Knicks are a business, but they’re also the team of New York. If Durant truly wants to bring together community, and become the face plastered on the walls of children’s bedrooms, the Knicks are the largest stage for him to flip the script on the villain narrative that came with joining the Warriors.
The Nets have a legitimate case for Durant as well, and may at first glance appear more attractive for a superstar looking to once again become the hero. The franchise showed to be in a cultural rebuild that could inspire a return to relevancy as well as the growth of the fanbase. Tickets at the Barclays Center are undoubtedly more affordable than the inflated prices of admission in the world’s most famous arena, and Durant could become an icon across the Brooklyn Bridge.
While the Nets may appear more enticing because they appear not to be focused on milking their market, the franchise low prices and small market feel are simply due to their lack of influence. The Knicks have remained one of the league’s most popular franchises in recent seasons despite their consistent inability to win. When the Knicks are winning, the city smiles, when the Nets win, nobody really cares. The Knicks may be an international brand similar to Golden State, yet the team’s ability to impact New York communities and inspire local youth is undeniable.
New York can offer Kevin Durant a chance to be the hero whose name lives on the backs of an entire city. If Durant wants to be an inspiration to genuine communities and rebuild his public image, as opposed to simply accepting his role as a business asset meant to entertain clients who have weekend meetings at Google, he will wear the orange and blue.