Current Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant’s decision to join a Golden State Warriors team coming off a 73-win regular season in 2016 remains one of the most scrutinized moves in the history of the NBA.
Although it created a competitive imbalance across the Association for several years, Durant apparently wasn’t certain about forming the most talented team the sport had seen during his free agency process. That is until future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady suggested doing so.
During a recent appearance on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Durant’s manager and business partner, Rich Kleiman, detailed the whirlwind negotiation process in the Hamptons. Durant was courted by multiple teams that offseason, including the Boston Celtics, whose front office brought in Brady to pitch the organization to the 2014 NBA MVP.
However, the then-Patriots signal-caller apparently gave Durant a different recommendation, encouraging him to sign with the team that offered the greatest chance of winning his first championship.
“I remember when the Celtics came. So it was the Celtics’ ownership and Danny Ainge, and Jae Crowder and I think Kelly Olynyk was there, but here came Tom Brady,” Kleiman recalled. “So it was like, alright, s—, they’re really trying to level the playing field.”
“So [Brady and Durant] went to take a walk together, I think,” Kleiman continued. “And then later on, KD was like, ‘So he told me, bottom line, look for the best team, best organization, best chance to win, no matter what. I think Brady just told me to go to the Warriors, bro.’”
Golden State finished 228-78, including the playoffs during the Durant era, making three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and winning back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Had Durant, who played just one game in the 2019 NBA Finals, not suffered significant calf and Achilles injuries during his final postseason run with the Warriors, Golden State might have won three straight championships.
While Bostonians might feel betrayed that the greatest athlete in the city’s history suggested Durant play elsewhere, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Brady advocated heading to the most suitable destination to win. Of course, Brady took his own advice when making his own free agency decision in 2020, when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he won his seventh Super Bowl in the subsequent season.