Before Kevin Durant hyperextended his knee against his hometown Wizards, the Vegas odds that the Golden State Warriors were going to win the NBA title sat at 5/11. By comparison, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers sit at 3/1.
Ever since the day Kevin Durant announced he was going to sign with the Warriors, the NBA lost its casual fans. Why bother tuning in? You add a top-three player to the best regular season team of all time and the result is likely the best team of all time. Sure, you have to play the games. If they gave out championships in October then the Miami Heat would have been the 2011 NBA Champions. But anyone who tells you that the Warriors aren’t a virtual lock is either a liar or ignorant.
Sure, the Spurs are the Spurs and could always pop up and surprise someone, but does anybody really believe they’d win a seven-game series with the Warriors at full strength?
And sure, the Rockets have been a nice surprise, but even the Rockets’ players don’t think they could be the Warriors. After that, you’ve got teams like the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers, who would be lucky to steal a game three at home.
In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics and the Raptors don’t even have a shot to make it to the finals, and even the Lebron James-led defending champion Cavaliers could be considered underdogs.
The point is that since the day KD joined the Warriors, the NBA season became moot for the average viewer. Sure, the diehard fans of their lifelong teams will continue to tune in, but if you’re a guy like me who knows which two teams will be in the finals and knows that the Warriors will probably win in six games, why bother watching until the finals?
This morning, if you’re a fan of the Spurs or the Rockets or Cavs or Celtics, you woke up feeling a little more hopeful, a little more energized. “Maybe we have a shot now,” you think to yourself.
Kevin Durant’s injury opens the door for the rest of the league. It gives the 2016-17 NBA season a chance to be memorable, to be exciting. Kevin Durant may have robbed NBA fans of an entertaining season, but he also may have just given it back.