There was a point a few years ago where I would’ve argued that Kevin Durant, not LeBron James, is the best player on the planet. Then LeBron went absolutely batshit insane, told every around him to f*** off, and became the Greatest Player Since Jordan, and officially threw his hat into the ring for Best Of All Time accolades. In that process, he played every single position, dominated every statistical category, became one of the most efficient shooters we’ve ever seen, most accurate passers on the planet, most driven rebounder in the league, and a deadly assassin – a word commonly associated with Kevin Durant. LeBron also happened to beat Durant in the NBA Finals, then took over Team USA as the best player in the world with Kevin Durant serving as merely the Robin to LeBron’s figurative Batman.
Look – I LOVE Kevin Durant. He’s my favorite player, period. I’ve never seen anyone make the game look as easy as he does. It’s cliche, but it’s true. He’s one of the nicest guys in the NBA, but also one of the baddest dudes on the hardwood. I want Kevin Durant to be the best player in the NBA. I do. But he’s not…yet.
Nike ran an ad campaign this year with the slogan “KD is Not Nice” after Durant started getting more technical fouls than he ever had before, largely due to his more fiery nature. The guy can take over any game, at any time, but thus far in his NBA career, it hasn’t been good enough.
LeBron James needed to snap and go a little crazy before he settled down, won a ring, and cemented his legacy as maybe-the-best-ever-someday’s leading candidate. Does Durant need to do the same? Maybe he has.
Check out this quote KD gave SI’s Lee Jenkins, now gracing the Cover of this week’s edition of the magazine:
“I’ve been second my whole life. I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the Finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”
Is this the beginning of Bird vs Magic 2.0? I think so. Is LeBron still the best player on the planet? I think so. Is Kevin Durant about to swipe that title right from under his noise and add some shiny new bling to his finger along with a “2013 NBA Champions” Banner hanging from the Chesapeake Energy Arena rafters? I don’t know.
This season could mark the second time Durant has led his Thunder to the NBA Finals, and the Playoffs he finally proves he’s second to none.
It could also be the second time he loses to LeBron James, the second ring he loses to his idol, the second banner that isn’t hanging from his home rafters, and the second time in as many years LeBron proves that Durant is simply second-best.