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Dear Kevin Durant, if you chase a title you'd better catch it

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) goes up to shoot in front of Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) DOA103
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) goes up to shoot in front of Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) DOA103
Published Jan. 23, 2017

ORLANDO — The Golden State Warriors, one of the great shows in sports, hit Orlando on Sunday to beat the Magic by 20 points. Fans crowded the railings before the game to get a close-up of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and, of course, Stephen Curry.

And the new guy: Kevin Durant.

Durant, one of the best basketball players in the world, a joy to watch, fled during NBA free agency after eight years with the Oklahoma City, unquestionably his right, a Thunder bolt, to roll with the very team that beat him and OKC is last year's Western Conference Finals.

Bad optics. Throw in Durant hanging with his friend and Warriors recruiting coordinator Draymond Green during their playoff series — you know, when Green wasn't kicking Durant's teammate Steven Adams in the, um, groin during the series. Truly bad optics.

And we can't tell what difference Durant has made. The rich simply got richer. Durant is averaging 26.3 points, more than Curry, and the Warriors were 38-6 after Sunday's win. But Golden State was 40-4 at this point last season without Durant. They were already great, going a record 73-9 last season and missing a second consecutive NBA title by only one LeBron James block and one Kyrie Irving three-pointer.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is fouled by Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is fouled by Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017

Durant is going to put them over the top?

Who knows?

What we do know for sure is that Durant is going to get booed like the man who stole Christmas on Feb. 11, when Golden State visits Oklahoma City for the first time since Durant left ... on the Fourth of July.

Maybe that's the way it should be, free country and all, free to change jobs, free to be vilified for doing so, free to have your career defined by whether you win it all or not.

If you go chase a title, you sure better catch one.

It's defining time.

"Who cares, to be honest?" Durant said Sunday. "I define my career at the end of the day. And it's pretty damn good so far."

I bet he cares.

Look, I have no problem with Durant leaving. True, he didn't leave me. Durant gave Oklahoma City fans eight years, gave them more than they gave him — and they paid his salary. And in what book is it written that when you leave you have to go to a lousy team, one that hasn't won a title?

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) tries to get the ball from Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) tries to get the ball from Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

But I don't mind OKC fans having it in for Durant. It's their right. Only don't try telling me that if Durant had joined anyone but Golden State that all would have been forgiven. One more thing: if Durant eventually pulled a LeBron and went back to OKC, Thunder fans would ... fall in love with him all over again.

All's fair.

Even unfair is fair.

It's a new kind of NBA. You don't have to like it, but there it is. Players are friends with each other. That doesn't mean they don't try as hard or perform worse when they go up against each other. But they share sponsors. They play on dream teams together. They make up dream teams together.

"To be honest, I was just drawn to how they played the game," Durant said of the Warriors. "All that other stuff will take care of itself. I just loved the way they played. You can see now that we're playing at a good place at both ends of the floor. We're helping each other. It's a fun way to play."

I still say he's chasing a title.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr calls out instructions during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr calls out instructions during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.

"The chemistry is good," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We all knew what a good teammate Kevin is. We also knew he was a guy who didn't have to have the ball. He makes plays, he catches and shoots, he cuts well without the ball. It would have been impossible to add a superstar who was a ball-dominant player. That wouldn't have worked."

Even unfair is fair.

LeBron would have been judged harshly if he hadn't delivered titles. It's insane. I mean, Dan Marino is nothing, Ernie Banks is nothing, without championships?

"That would mean John Stockton is not a winner," Kerr said. "John Stockton is one of the greatest competitors I've ever seen in my life, one of the great players in the history of the game. I could go on down the list: Charles Barkley, Steve Nash. Whoever. There is so much circumstance and luck that goes into this, so all you can do is accept that narrative as part of the deal. You go out there and play and you have fun, and whatever happens happens. You can't control what everybody else is saying."

If you chase a title, you better be ready for anything.

Unfair is fair.

It's part of the narrative. It's KD's new deal.

So are those boos in Oklahoma City.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.

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