Kevin Durant might be getting a shit ton of criticism for taking the, perceived, “easy road” to an NBA title by signing with the Golden State Warriors, with Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller even saying that Durant’s “cheating” his way to a title. But these former players might not remember that they almost did the exact same thing.
The candidates were winnowed down to Miller and Allan Houston. Miller was a proven commodity under pressure, a natural attraction. Miller had the personality for the place. Houston was younger and more likely to sign without dragging the team through a series of negotiating ploys. Grunfeld and Dave Checketts didn’t want to be used as leverage. They might have ended with nothing, after all the maneuvering. The Knicks finally signed Houston, while Miller was in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. The Indiana player got the news at the U.S. team’s hotel, and went whining to U.S. teammate Grant Hill of the Pistons. “Your guy just ruined my plans,” Miller told Hill. Nobody really knew what Miller’s plans might have been, including Houston. “I didn’t care,” Houston said yesterday. “I did what was the best situation for me.”
Now, it’s important to note that 1) Miller didn’t actually land with the Knicks, technically, making it OK for him to bash Durant and 2) while he did, allegedly, get angry after hearing that New York signed Allan Houston, his “ruined plans” don’t directly say he was going to the Big Apple. Still, all signs lead to Miller wanting to join the Knicks 20 years ago.
So, while it’s easy for Barkley and Miller to dog on Durant’s decision to hitch a ride with the team that he couldn’t get passed in the playoffs—with Reggie saying KD traded a “sacred legacy for cheap jewelry,” let’s not forget that the two nearly did it themselves as players, too!