Through Kevin Durant’s first 9 seasons in the NBA, his superstar status was undeniable to anyone who saw him play. What Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Myers didn’t really know about the former league MVP was the kind of person he was when he signed him in the off-season. Through 36 games of this season, Myers may be even more impressed with the person he’s gotten to know in Durant, his priorities, and maturity.
“As a person, as a teammate, he really just cares about winning,” Myers told The Jim Rome Show on Thursday. “I think in the progression of an athlete a lot of the times, initially they have to prove that they belong and a lot of that is statistically. I got to prove I belong in this league, whatever sport it is. And then you got to get paid. A lot of guys are like, I got to get my money, which that’s fine. We all work for money for the most part and that’s fine for athletes to go that route, and once you’ve achieved that, and then you have some individual accolades, MVP, recognition, respect. Then it’s really about championships. I think that’s what Kevin has figured out now. That’s all it’s about for him.
Myers explained that for Durant it’s not about the dollars or the shoe deals. It’s about the last piece of the puzzle, a championship, and he’s pursuing it despite the discomfort of every aspect of the pursuit.
“He had to fit into a different system; he’s had to fit with new guys. He’s had to play under a different coach, live in a different city, take the heat that he did to make the choice. It’s easy for me to sit here and say, well Kevin yeah, you’re going to take some flak, but do what’s best for you. How many of us, when put in the position where we know there’s going to be repercussions or a backlash to what we do, actually do it?” Myers said. “He did it because he thought it was the best thing for him.”
Lost in the hype of the Durant signing is the continued improvement of his front court teammate Draymond Green. Myers credited the polarizing player’s play with a willingness to put the work on in the off-season and an eager ear.
“Every year he’s gotten better, ever year on the basketball court he’s gotten better. And he’s pretty darn good, and pretty important to what we do and this year he’s doing fantastic as well,” Myers said about Green. “He’s one of my favorite guys. I know people listening, half the people probably love him, half the people hate him, but the guy cares, and I love people that care that much about what they do. You’d take those people all day long.”
For the fifth year in a row, by popular demand, Myers led a contingent of Warriors front office staff in a pickup game against the inmates at San Quentin State Prison. This year, Durant and Green took in the action from the sidelines. Myers talked about the lasting effect of their visits.
“I think for the inmates, they feel like they matter,” Myers said. “Obviously, I have no idea what it would be like to be locked up in prison and a lot of the guys that are in there, it’s not next week they’re getting out. It’s 25 years, it’s life. So I have no concept of that life they are in. They’re living, but I do know you’d probably feel like you didn’t matter, and the world was moving on without you. So it sends that message at least, that there’s people that care about you outside, outside of those gates, outside of those walls. And everybody needs to feel like they matter. Once you start feeling like you don’t matter, well, that’s when things really start going downhill. So I think for the inmates I think they get that.”
But Myers feels like they get more out of the visit than the inmates do.
“Speaking for myself, and talking to Draymond and Kevin. So much in life for me, we don’t have gratitude for what we have. I’m guilty of it. I don’t appreciate fully our team, I don’t. I work at it. I try, but often in times, our mind leads us towards what don’t we have,” Myers said. He continued by explaining how a player making $5 million will always look to a player making $7 million and think they should be making more than them. Myers compared that to the feeling he had leaving the prison that afternoon, “The thought I had getting in my car: one, I can walk out of these gates, I get to leave. That simple thought of I don’t have to stay here. And then I get in my car, and said I can drive wherever I want to right now. Just the simple thing that like you can get off your show right now and whatever you want to do afterwards, you can do. Just that part of life that freedom that they don’t have they don’t experience.”