NEW YORK • Kevin Durant shook the National Basketball Association in the opening moments of free agency on Sunday night, announcing his decision to leave the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets on Instagram to the beat of a track from the late New York rapper Notorious B.I.G.
With their four-year deal worth US$164 million (S$222 million) for the 10-time All-Star, besides reportedly agreeing a four-year, US$141 million contract with Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving and a four-year, US$40 million agreement with DeAndre Jordan from New York Knicks, it was the splashiest combination of moves for the Nets.
They have spent years digging out from the depths of ill-advised personnel moves and searching for a slice of the spotlight in a city long dominated by the Knicks.
For Durant, 30, it will be a fresh start with a new team - a budding relationship that will require patience from both sides.
The forward will likely miss the whole of next season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals three weeks ago.
Achilles injuries are often debilitating for elite athletes, and there is no guarantee that the forward will make a full recovery.
But he is a unique talent, perhaps the most versatile scorer around, and that's why Brooklyn are betting big.
Sum of Brooklyn Nets' reported multi-million dollar contract offers to star trio Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.
He opted for a new challenge despite his former team's offer of a five-year maximum contract at US$221 million, the richest security he could have found in the wake of arguably the worst injury a basketball player could suffer.
As The New York Times reported, Nets officials had been aggressively pursuing deals for Durant and Jordan, one of his closest friends, in addition to their long-planned quest to sign Irving.
They had to fend off a deep field for Durant, who also strongly considered a pitch from the Los Angeles Clippers, in addition to the Warriors' attempts to re-sign him as well as the Knicks' own interest.
Verbal commitments from the trio by the night's end represent a dramatic turnaround just six years after they had squandered three future first-round draft picks to Boston in a crippling and short-sighted trade in 2013 to acquire veteran duo Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics.
At the same time, it was a devastating start to free agency for the Knicks, who had expected to be in the running for Durant and Irving.
After all, they had traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January to create the type of financial flexibility they needed.
James Dolan, the team's owner, had also vowed during a radio interview that the Knicks were going to have a "very successful off-season when it comes to free agents".
By Sunday, though, it was looking like more of the same for their fans - false hope and searing disappointment - and the team with the worst record in the league (17-65) remain years from contending for anything, including a play-off berth.
Durant's departure from Golden State, though, marks the end of an era. There is some uncertainty for the team going forward even though they will be keeping much of their core intact - Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who reportedly signed a five-year, US$190 million maximum deal.
Thompson will likely miss next term after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during the NBA Finals, while Golden State were highly dependent on Durant during his three years in Oakland.
However, the team have sought to mitigate their absences by agreeing to a sign-and-trade involving the Nets' D'Angelo Russell, who became an All-Star in February.
It was not immediately known what his former team were receiving in exchange, but the guard was said to have signed a four-year, US$117 million deal to link up with the former NBA champions.