It was the most controversial decision since, well… The Decision. When Kevin Durant’s post to The Player Tribune debuted on July 4, in his words “moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth,” Golden State transformed from the team everyone loved to watch to the one everyone loved to hate, almost overnight. With LeBron James back where he belongs winning championships in Cleveland, and Russell Westbrook elevating his status as a folk hero of Oklahoma City, carrying the team on his back as the new Kobe Bryant of the NBA, KD instead found himself in unfamiliar territory: the villain. However, he also found himself with a new identity, one that perhaps suits him better, as a teammate to players worthy of his talents. With two-time MVP Steph Curry draining threes, Klay Thompson putting up points in bunches like no other can, and Draymond Green dominating both sides of the floor, Durant and Golden State are rewriting the rules on how many stars can share the limelight. Wilt, West, Baylor; Bird, McHale, Parrish; Magic, Kareem, Worthy; Jordan, Pippin, Kukoc; LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh. Big Three’s all. Plainly speaking, the NBA has never seen a “Big Four” before.
With that in mind, let’s explore this uncharted territory… here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Golden State Warriors’ Big Four.
15 Kevin Durant dreamed of going to Golden State the moment the 2015-16 season ended
“All my life, I’ve been a pleaser, put everyone else ahead of me,” Kevin Durant says. Then, when last season ended, a light bulb went off. "It felt like that whole thing was set up for me to leave," he says, "especially after they blew a lead in the finals, because I damn sure wasn't going there if they'd won. But after Game Seven, I called up my agent and said, 'Damn, dude, Golden State – what if?' “ Draymond Green agrees. “I’m pretty sure KD wouldn’t have come here if we hadn’t won the championship,” he opined. Weeks after the loss, Durant, his father, his best friend, and his agent rented a house in East Hampton, New York, and hosted one potential team after another. He sat alone in a hot tub after all the teams were gone for two hours, torn up by his decision. He woke up at 5am the next day and heard a voice in his head only saying one thing: Warriors.
14 Draymond Green may have been the X-Factor that finally won Durant over
By his estimate, Draymond Green brought Kevin Durant into the fold by sending him “an absurd number of texts” in the days leading up to his decision to join the Warriors. Additionally, Green, as well as Klay Thompson were Kevin Durant’s teammates for Team USA prior to him becoming a free agent, and just a few days after KD signed with Golden State there were reports coming out of Oklahoma City that his former teammates were bothered that Draymond and Durant had been in contact “all season long.” Indeed, the ability to have a social life he never had with Russell Westbrook and his other teammates on the Thunder won Durant over. He chose the Warriors not only because he wanted to prioritize winning, but because “they just liked each other so much and were so relaxed.”
13 Draymond Green, in fact, according to his coach, may be the key to the season
Despite coaching two former MVPs, Warriors coach Steve Kerr thinks Draymond Green is the key to this season. “I told him that too,” Kerr says. “There’s going to be an adjustment, but Draymond is always going to be at the center of everything we do.” Green agrees with his coaches assessment, saying “that’s definitely part of my role… making sure everything comes together; making sure nothing comes in between us.” Green has also embraced the “villain” role more than any of his Golden State teammates, saying “who cares what someone tries to make us out to be?… The most fun I have in this game is going on another team’s floor and quieting their crowd anyway.” Green’s infamous Game Four swipe at Lebron James’ groin led to his Game Five suspension in last season’s NBA Finals, laying the groundwork for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit. Villain? Yes. Needed on the floor? Absolutely.
12 Kevin Durant has been transforming physically this year with the help of (mostly) deceased hip hop stars
Rick James, Aaliyah, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Tupac Shakur have all joined Kevin Durant since he joined Golden State, taking up permanent residence on his left leg. He noted that he grew up listening to James “while grandma cleaned the house,” Aaliyah was his “first big crush as a kid,” and his “world in seventh grade.” He also said that that Lopes and Tupac are both on his calf because their “music takes me to my happy place.” He also hosts the Wu Tang Clan, who, of course, are very much alive, but will forever be linked with the untimely death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. There is some suspicion that the Tupac tattoo in particular was an embrace of Durant’s new West Coast existence, considering he got it just weeks after signing with the Warriors. Shakur, of course, was famously in a West Coast/East Coast rivalry with the The Notorious B.I.G.
11 Reigning back-to-back MVP Steph Curry makes the least money of the Big Four
Thanks to an off-season huge spike in the NBA salary cap, from $70 million to an estimated $94 million, the Warriors have been able to tie up an unprecedented amount of money in their stars to somehow build upon their so called “Death Lineup” from the previous seasons. Kevin Durant, as befitting a super-star in today’s NBA, will be pulling in over $26 million this year, and Thompson and Green are each locked in at over $15 million as great players in their own right. Curry, however, will make “just” $12 million this year, before becoming a free agent this offseason. Of course, there is good reason for that, as Steph signed his current four-year contract before he had made an All-Star team, and certainly before he became the back-to-back MVP.
10 The Big Four may be a one-season only experiment
Curry’s impending free agency this offseason might spell disaster for the “Big Four” remaining together after just their first year dominating opponents. The possible culprit: the league wide salary cap projection for 17-18 has been slashed from $108 million to $102 million, a relatively small jump from its current number. The Warriors, just to sign Durant last summer, already had to renounce the rights to restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Azili AND trade Andrew Bogut to free up cap space. Curry’s estimate max contract he expects to receive in the off-season is five-years, $165 million. Key pieces Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguadola will also be free agents, and are certainly at risk. But, most importantly, if Kevin Durant opts out of his contract after just one season and joins Curry on the open market… look out.
9 The Big Four have un-precedented credentials that may surprise you
Never before have back-to-back MVPs played together in their primes. Not LeBron and D-Wade, not Shaq and Kobe, not Kareem and Magic… never, that is, until Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, owners of the three most recent best-in-the-league trophies. Additionally, the “Big Four” were all All-NBA picks last year, with Curry gaining a First Team selection, KD and Draymond Green as Second Team, and Klay Thompson bringing up the rear with a Third Team choice. Guess what? That’s right, never have four players been on the same team coming off a season in which the were all All-NBA. Not even the 1960’s Celtics and their incredible run of championships, nor Jordan’s Bulls and their six-peat. The craziest part? There may be a fourth straight MVP and a second year of four All-NBA honors for this crew in the works.
8 Despite Durant’s arrival, Thompson and Curry are still shattering records
When Klay Thompson poured in 60 points in just 29 minutes in a recent December game, he didn’t just set a record for an under-30 minute appearance, he shattered it. The man lagging far behind: Steph Curry, who scored 46 for the Warriors just last season in under 30 (Washington’s Gilbert Arenas also reached 46 in 2006). Thompson also owns the record for most points scored in a quarter with 37, a line he put up in the third quarter of a game against Sacramento in January, 2015. Curry, for his part, set the record for there pointers in a season in 12-13 when he heaved 272, then surpassed himself with 286 in 14-15, before taking a run at the record in 15-16, with Thompson also taking aim. Klay fell just short with 276, Steph blasted forward with… 402, demolishing his own record.
7 Durant and Green are shattering records too, though both have lost momentum this season
For his part, before joining Golden State, Kevin Durant had convinced none other than LeBron James to say he was going to become the all-time scoring champion. That might not be true moving forward however, if he has to share touches with Curry and Thompson, as he is on pace for his second lowest points per game average since his first season with OKC. That said, Durant already owns the records for most 25 point games in a row in the three-point-era, surpassing none other than Michael Jordan in 2014 with 41 straight. He was also the youngest player in NBA history to win a scoring title, doing so at just 21 years old. And Draymond Green? He can put it up like his teammates occasionally, but he is more of a complete package type. Last season Green became the first player in NBA history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks in a season. While he continues to excel with his all-around play, with three scorers to defer to Green is simply not getting enough shots compared to last season to pass the 1,000 point total.
6 Klay Thompson and Steph Curry both are the sons of former ballers
Call them the Splash Fathers; Dell Curry was a 6’ 5” rookie for the Utah Jazz when he faced off against the San Antonio Spurs on December 29, 1986, who featured a 6’ 9” back-up forward named Mychal Thompson. It doesn’t surprise anyone to say they both shot more than 50% from the field that night. Like fathers like sons, Thompson shot 7-14 for 15 points and Curry, 7-12 for 17 points, helping the Jazz to 109-101 victory. The one major difference? The elder Thompson’s three pointer the night he faced off against the elder Curry was the only one of his entire career.
Dell and Mychal each went on to long journeyman careers, with Curry reaching 16 seasons in the NBA, Thompson, 13. Needless to say however, they have both already been eclipsed by the success of their sons. Every father’s dream…
5 Despite their pedigree Thompson and Curry were also both lightly recruited out of high school
Virginia Tech, where Dell Curry played, only offered his son Steph a walk-on opportunity. He passed, went to Davidson in North Carolina, and then promptly set an NCAA record for three-pointers by a freshman in 2007. He broke his own record in 2008 and then took his team on a surprise run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament before being taken #7 by the Warriors in the 2009 NBA Draft. Despite playing for teams at Santa Margarita High School in Orange County, where his father starred, that were stacked with Division 1 talent in high school, the Pac-12’s “hometown” teams like USC and UCLA ignored Klay Thompson when it came time for recruiting. He went to Washington State instead, stated as a freshman and was the Pac-12’s leading scorer by his junior year, before being drafted #11 overall by the Warriors in 2011.
4 The Big Four have all been nominees for the NBA’s Community Assist Award
All of the “Big Four” have been finalists for the NBA’s Community Assist Award. Durant and Greet were nominated this past season, Thompson the year prior, and Curry won the award in 2013-14. KD made headlines in 2013 when he donated $1 million to the American Red Cross to assist with disaster relief efforts after Oklahoma had been devastated by a tornado. Last season he was honored with a nomination after throwing his first charity fundraiser, unveiling his first US basketball court in Oklahoma City as part of his “Build It and They Will Ball” initiative, and donating $35,000 to Positive Tomorrows, a school for homeless children. New teammate Klay Thompson won the Community Assist Award for the month of November, 2014, when he donated to give over 2,000 low-income families and individuals Thanksgiving dinner and took a 6th grade class on a shopping spree, organized by the Good Tidings Foundation, who he partners with.
The largest donation by a former student athlete in Michigan State University history? Draymond Green. Saginaw, Michigan’s local hero gave $3.1 million in 2015, enough to have his name stamped on the front of a new weight room called The Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center. Last but certainly not least, Steph Curry has been backing up his three-point prowess by donating mosquito nets that save families in Africa from malaria for every shot behind the arc he makes, as part of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign.
3 Steve Kerr and Draymond Green got into an altercation last season that almost needed police
At none other than the Golden State Warriors’ 2015 victory parade after their first title in 40 years, Draymond Green complained to the crowd that “I’m the only person that gets talked about what shots I take and all those things by [head coach] Steve Kerr.” The next season, during halftime in a road game against, you guessed it, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Green got in a shouting match with Kerr about shot selection, yelling “I am not a robot!” After Coach Kerr told him to sit down, Draymond reportedly screamed “Motherf—r, come sit me down!” ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters reported that she had “never heard anything like this before” and that an Oklahoma City policeman “kind of moved me aside… hand on his weapon… it was clear that something bad was about to happen in this locker room.”
2 Good news ladies, of the Big Four, only Steph Curry is completely off the market
Steph Curry is actually married to his high school sweetheart, Ayesha, who, along with their daughters Riley and Ryan, have become well know for their loving social media posts, adorable post-game press conferences (Riley), and a cooking TV show, book, and YouTube channel (Ayesha). Draymond Green is not married, but his girlfriend Jelissa Hardy, is due any day with their first child. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have more complicated details to their love lives. KD was previously engaged to two-time WNBA Champion Monica Wright and earlier this year was re-linked to on-again, off-again girlfriend Jasmine Shine. Thompson, for his part, was allegedly caught cheating by his former model girlfriend Hannah Stocking, and earlier this year denied dating a woman who had spray painted her name on his patio, claiming she was nothing more than a guest to a party at his home, and he had allowed her to do so because he was having it renovated soon anyway.
1 The Big Four are so good, they just might be ruining the NBA
As a recent GQ article opined, “the Golden State Warriors - a revolutionary, once-in-a-generation squad led by a scrawny shooter from another planet - are ruining basketball.” And that was BEFORE they signed Kevin Durant. After setting the all-time record for most wins in a season last year with 73, these current Warriors might not quite reach that pinnacle, but are once again dominating their opponents, winning by 37 and 43 points in back-to-back games in November and then by a comparatively modest 27 and 36 points in back-to-backs in early December. The "Big Four" are each averaging more than 30 minutes a game and are the only ones on the team averaging in double figures in scoring (and Durant, Thompson, and Curry are each well over 20 PPG.)
We are hard pressed to pick anyone else to win the championship… but, then again, that’s what everyone said last year.