Oklahoma City, OK – He is a three-time NBA scoring champ. He has been named to the All-NBA first team 3 times. He was named National College Player of the Year, as a freshman. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year. He was the 2012 NBA All-Star Game MVP. He is only 23 years old. His name is Kevin Durant, forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he is on the cusp of becoming the greatest player in the world.
I have always prided myself as a sports fan as not being a prisoner of the moment. Too many times, fans freak out after a great performance by a player or team, and overreact to that single performance. If their favorite player or team lost, then they stink and will never win again. Or, if their favorite player or team won a big game, it’s now time to plan the championship parade. But sometimes a player comes along that is a game-changer in his sport. A player who just looks different, is noticeably better than everyone else, and changes how his sport is played for years to come. That guy is Kevin Durant. I have really hated the many comparisons fans and critics have made over the years about all the players who may be “the next Jordan”. Here is a list of guys that I can remember being compared to “His Airness” at one time or another….Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Harold Minor, Tracy McGrady, and in more recent years Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Most people regard Jordan as the best player of all time, as do I. To be fair, I do believe Kobe has come the closest to what Michael accomplished, and in a very similar role. Both guys were physical shooting guards, could slash to the basket, and could rip opponents hearts out with a devastating 3-pointer in the clutch. Bryant has looked eerily similar to M.J. as well, with his mannerisms and how he sounds during interviews. Kobe has won 5 rings, compared to Jordan’s 6, but I will be very surprised if Bryant wins another. He seems to be slowly wearing down, and the Lakers are not getting any younger. But it’s not just the championships to consider when comparing anyone to Jordan. Michael changed how the NBA was played, and his combination of overall skills, desire to win, and game I.Q. made him a force unlike anyone had ever seen. Some have said for years that there is a guy playing in the NBA now who will catch and possibly surpass Jordan’s success and impact on the game. I believe that as well, but it’s not LeBron James…it’s Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant is frighteningly good, already. Again, he is 23 years old, and just got done polishing off the Miami Heat in Game 1, scoring 36 points in his first ever NBA Finals game. Watching him during these playoffs, I have tried to think of who he reminds me of. The answer? Nobody. He is listed at 6’9″, but many have said he is taller than that. He has the outside jump shot of a Dirk Nowitzki, in that he is so tall and long that it is impossible to block. He also has the slashing ability of a LeBron or Jordan, but he is a few inches taller than them. His ability to take two to three dribbles from the three point line, and fly in to the basket like a pterodactyl is jaw-dropping. His game keeps evolving, and will only get better. He has shown the ability to take over games, and knows when to do so. He has that killer instinct, much like a Kobe or Michael. Throughout all of his early accomplishments, he is still very humble and sounds mature beyond his years. He is also lucky enough to be on a team with other young studs like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka. This has all the makings of the Thunder going on a several-year run, racking up multiple titles along the way. I know what I am about to say, but will say it anyway because I do believe it…..Kevin Durant will one day match or eclipse Michael Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history. He is that talented. Combine his skill, drive, maturity, and killer instinct, and you have a potentially iconic player about ready to bust out.
There is one negative side to all of this. It would be if you are a fan of any other Western Conference NBA team, and in my case, the Denver Nuggets. I am already bracing myself for the eventual fact that the Thunder, led by Durant, will more than likely toy with and dismantle my Nuggets over and over during the next decade. Denver will win a few games against Oklahoma City here and there, but I just have this feeling that if the two teams were to meet in the playoffs, the Thunder will be better and thus crush our title hopes….year after year…..kinda like the Knicks and Pacers could never get past Jordan and the Bulls….Durant and his Thunder are going to be devastatingly good for many, many years.
Denver Sports by J Simp