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Warriors Finals Loss Paved Way For Durant

The Warriors organization was named the 2016 ENCORE winner on Monday night. The prestigious award is given by the Stanford Graduate School of Business to the entrepreneurial company of the year. Team owner Joe Lacob, along with Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, attended the ceremony and addressed a number of topics regarding the team and Durant’s free agency. One notable admission came from Durant, who acknowledged that he likely wouldn’t have ended up signing with Golden State this summer had it defeated the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, Anthony Slater of The Mercury News relays, along with a number of other details below:

When asked if the Warriors winning the 2015/16 NBA title would have made signing with them less interesting, Durant responded:

I was telling one of my friends, [his agent] Rich [Kleiman], who’s here, we were watching Game 7. Well, as it started to unfold, it was, ‘No question, no way could you go to this team.’ And I was just like a kid, like, in a candy shop. I’d get wide open 3s, I could just run up and down the court, get wide open layups. I was basically begging him. I was like, yo, this would be nice. So as I was thinking about my decision and who I was gonna play for, this team came to mind. You know, as they lost, it became more and more real every day. You start to think about it even more. To see if I would fit. Then once I sat down with these guys, everything that I wanted to know about them they kinda showed me. But we don’t have to talk about it though because they didn’t get the job done and they came after me and who knows what would’ve happened. But I guess you could say I’m glad that they lost.

When pressed for a more detailed response as to why he chose the Warriors, Durant said:

It felt like it was a perfect fit. It was something I was searching for when I sat down and talked to these guys. I wanted to see if what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen on the outside is really true. Do these guys really genuinely love each other? They work together. You hear family a lot. That’s just a word sometimes, but this is really a lifestyle here. You can feel it when you walk in the door, in the practice facility, everybody is just together. That’s something that I can appreciate as a basketball player and someone who values relationships. You can tell that that’s what they stand on, that’s what we stand on. I feel really grateful to play for a team like that and play with a bunch of players who are selfless and enjoy the game in its purest form. They make it about the players, they make it about the environment, so it was really an easy choice.

Discussing what makes the Warriors’ culture as an organization so special, Lacob used Iguodala as a prime example, saying:

“Sometimes I have the privilege of speaking to people. Andre’s story is my favorite story. To come in, as a player, he could’ve signed anywhere. He could’ve signed with us. Actually I get credit for that. I should give Andre credit. He picked us. We came from another meeting and we sat down and prepared to meet Andre and tell him why we think he’d be a good fit. About two minutes into the presentation, he said, ‘Stop, stop, I want to play for you guys.’ That’s what he said. It’s a true story. I said, ‘We have some DVDs here.’ And he said, ‘I don’t need to see them.’ I said, ‘We have no way to sign you. We’re way over the cap. That’s nice Andre. But we have no way, we can’t, we’re kinda wasting your time.’ He said, ‘It’s OK, I’ll wait for you to figure it out.’ Meanwhile, he’s given deadlines by other teams. You have until midnight until we’re going away. Andre says fine. Team 1 went away. Another team put a deadline on him. You have until noon the day. More money. More years. He said ‘No, I’m waiting on the Warriors.’ Which is unbelievable to me. He not only makes that sacrifice but has the patience to see what he wanted. Most players don’t see what they want. Then he comes to our team, All-Star, Olympic medalist. Plays with us for a year, does great.

Next year Steve Kerr is hired. Steve asks him to come off the bench. Some of you might perceive that as easy. I’d equate that to some of you. You might be VP or president of your company and your chairman comes in and says, ‘We don’t need you to be VP anymore, you’re going to be the director. You deserve to be a VP, but we’re gonna knock you down a level because it’s good for the company.’ So Andre took all that, didn’t go home. When the media asked him, ‘Andre, what do you really think? Isn’t it BS that you’re not starting? You can tell me.’ All year, nothing. Professional, humble, accepted his position. We’re down 2-1 to Cleveland. In the biggest moment in the franchise’s history the last 40 years, Steve Kerr says ‘Andre, now, we need you now.’ He was ready. When you ask about culture, that’s culture.

Discussing his free agent meeting with the team, Durant relayed the following:

“I was anxious to see what they’re all about. You hear a lot of about them. They’re on SportsCenter every day. One thing stood out to me, I had a friend tell me — that never played basketball, not even athletic — the first thing she said was, ‘When I watch Stephen Curry play, it makes me feel like I can play the game of basketball.’ So I asked her, ‘So how do I make you feel?’…That shows, like Andre said, when you play freely and have fun with the game, it just shows that it touches a lot of people that may not just be in that immediate circle of NBA or basketball or sports in general. So when they came into the meeting, I was really looking for that energy and I felt it from the beginning. It was just so pure. It was a feeling I couldn’t ignore. I wanted to be a part of it. No matter what happened, I wanted to be a part of it.”

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