Kevin Durant can only save his tanking legacy if he wins with the Phoenix Suns

Kevin Durant's Quest for Redemption: Assessing His Impact and Legacy in the NBA
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Three
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Three / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

There's only one way Kevin Durant can successfully save his tanking NBA legacy, and it's to win with the Phoenix Suns.

Since 2016, Kevin Durant has had to prove himself to NBA fans. KD infamously left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors in the offseason after the Warriors knocked KD and the Thunder out of the playoffs. KD played three seasons with the Warriors, winning two Championships during that span. KD seemingly cemented his legacy as one of the NBA's best all-time players.

His stint with Golden State didn't last long as he signed with the Brooklyn Nets after three seasons with the Warriors. KD never seemed to "fit" in with the Warriors' culture. It always felt like he was a bit of an outcast on that team. Regardless, KD made the move out east and joined another "super team."

There were some mixed feelings as Durant would be the de facto alpha on a Nets team that featured Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Some felt that if he led the Nets to a Championship it would solidify him being one of the greatest to ever play. Others felt like he joined another "super team" and if they won the Championship would hold less weight than if he were to win on his own.

Truth be told, Durant was never going to make everyone happy and to his credit, he has tirelessly expressed his disinterest in public opinion. Still, Durant has fallen out of favor over the previous couple of seasons. He flamed out in Brooklyn and made his way onto the Phoenix Suns in 2023 to form another super team. He joined Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Ayton in his first year there. Year two saw the Suns pivot to a new big three with Durant, Booker, and Bradley Beal as the focal points.

The expectations for the Suns were Championship or bust. A first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves all but ended the hoped-for deep playoff run fans were expecting. After the sweep rumors are beginning to swirl and speculation is going to take over the Suns' offseason.

Kevin Durant must remain with the Suns if he wants to save face in this league. Too many times he has sold hope to a franchise only to demand a trade or leave in free agency a few seasons later. It's time for KD to step up and not shy away from adversity.

Kevin Durant needs to win in Phoenix to remedy his basketball legacy

The Suns were outmatched by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The series was a dud for the most part. The Suns weren't nearly as competitive as the Wolves. For most of the series, it felt like Anthony Edwards was channeling his inner Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to will his team to victory while Durant, Booker, and Beal tried to aimlessly shoot their way back into the series. It didn't work.

Now the Suns face an offseason that is sure to be interesting. This team has committed to PAYING its top talent and doesn't control its own first-round pick until 2030. Because of this, there is potential for a lot of shakeup. For Durant's legacy to remain intact, he must stick with the Suns, not force his way out, and win a Championship.

Don't get me wrong, the guy is an insane basketball player. He's arguably the best sheer offensive talent I've ever seen play the game in my lifetime. His legacy as a scoring machine and offensive mismatch are solidified. He falls short in the winning department. People love delegitimizing Championships from players. They'll say that the team they're on had too much talent, the opposing team wasn't fully healthy, or whatever other million reasons people discredit rings for.

With Durant, it's rather simple. He left a great team, his team, in OKC for a Championship-ready roster in the Warriors. He won with the best big three the NBA has seen since MJ, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. He's been attempting to form unlimited variations of a super team to get him back into contention for the title, but he continuously falls short. This is the portion that is tainting his legacy.

It would be one thing if KD's actions matched his words. He says that he doesn't care about the public's perception of him. He says he has nothing to prove to anyone. These are facts. However, when he continuously demands to be put on a better roster, with better players, it's difficult to believe he doesn't care. If KD didn't care then he wouldn't have left OKC.

This article is not a knock on KD. This article will hopefully serve as a cautionary tale that Durant can only look for the best scenario so many times before NBA pundits completely discredit his achievements. He needs to see a situation through. There's no denying he's talented enough to bring home a Championship. For the sake of solidifying an undeniable all-time-great NBA career, Durant must stay put and deliver Phoenix the Larry O'Brien trophy.

1 Bad contract trade . NBA Rumors: 1 ‘Bad’ contract every team must explore trading this offseason. dark. Next