Kevin Durant's time with the Warriors was short, but the impact was not lost on him.
The Brooklyn Nets star, who announced he was leaving The Bay for BK on June 30, won back-to-back NBA championships and Finals MVP awards in his first two years with Golden State. His third, a tense campaign filled with speculation he would leave the Warriors in free agency for the bright lights of New York, ended with him tearing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
"It was a life-changing experience," Durant told Yahoo Sports. "I grew up as a young adult in OKC and then entering my 30s in Golden State was an enlightening experience, getting to play the game and reaching that level with the players of different backgrounds. It was just so much that went into that experience that elevated me mentally, physically and elevated my game. It was a fun time and I appreciate all that we accomplished together."
Durant won his first two titles with the Warriors, and also arguably was at his most efficient in Steve Kerr's offense and playing alongside All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He converted on 58.6 percent of his 2-point field goals, 38.4 percent of his 3s and 52.4 percent overall from the field. Those averages were better across the board than his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Durant averaged nearly two more assists per game.
But the speculation surrounding Durant's future appeared to take a toll on him and his teammates at times, including a highly public blow-up between him and Green on the sideline during a November loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Durant and his teammates privately and publicly moved on from the confrontation, and Haynes wrote that Durant rolled his eyes when asked about it.
"Hell, yeah, I'm tired of talking about that s--t," Durant told Haynes. "Look, we're grown men. We understand what this is. We're playing basketball for a living. It's a business. Everybody congratulated me when I went to the Nets. Everybody wished me well, and they know that I'm still a phone call away. So, I just happen to play in a different jersey now. Nothing else is going to change."
Durant likely won't get a reunion with his old teammates this season, as he continues to recover from the aforementioned ACL. His first visit to Chase Center will have to wait, and it remains to be seen if a recovering Durant can once again hit the heights he reached with Golden State in the wake of a difficult rehab process.
But he won't forget that he first attained that peak with the Warriors.