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What Will Kevin Durant’s Legacy Be?

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Finding a comparison for Kevin Durant has always been impossible.


From the moment he entered the league in 2007, he was a gifted scorer. Seven feet tall, with impossible length, his movements on the floor seem alien-like — like he was created in a laboratory to play basketball. If LeBron James is the cerebral pinnacle of the NBA, Kevin Durant is gifted talent in its most raw form. He’s tall, he can shoot, he can leap, and he can do all these things well enough to have a career scoring average of 27.2 points. That’s fourth all-time, behind just Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor.


In the last two seasons, we’ve seen him defend at an All-NBA level too. With Oklahoma City, he was able to affect Golden State’s drives to the basket in last year’s instant classic of a Western Conference Final. Despite his slender appearance, he was completely able to hold his own at the power forward position and play free safety. With the Warriors and Draymond Green, he’s even more mobile — able to close long spaces of basketball floor with one stride, blocking or changing shots all over the floor.

So if Kevin Durant, now 28 years old and at the height of his powers on both ends of the floor, is as great as his play suggests, why haven’t we started his legacy conversation?


Coming into this NBA Finals series, the main figurehead was LeBron James. Already a champion three times and dominant in his run of success in the Eastern Conference (12 years and counting), James has been public in his chase for the greatest of all-time. As our Joshua Howe so artfully put it on this site last week, this is a complex comparison — and one that’s inhaled the NBA conversation. LeBron or Jordan? Modern basketball or that of yesteryear? Because James is playing a team as brilliant as the Golden State Warriors, his David vs. Goliath story is even more intriguing because he seems on the verge of overtaking Jordan.


James’ orbit is powerful, and it’s swallowed Kevin Durant’s ability to pass him objectively. While Durant’s play has overshadowed all comers in the first two games of the Finals, nobody seems all that entertained by the basketball machine. Scoring 71 points on 27-for-48 shooting would be enough to draw widened eyeballs in any other year, but because of Durant’s offseason circumstances, they seem tainted.


So much had to happen to bring Durant to a 73-win Golden State team. His willingness was the least of these factors — who wouldn’t want to sign a max contract for a team that was one Kyrie Irving shot away from winning the title? The salary cap spike happened at a perfect time, allowing the Warriors the space to sign him while keeping their other three Hall of Fame assets in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.


Then, once he got there, the Warriors were downright boring in their excellence. They sleepwalked through the regular season, and are now 15–0 in the playoffs with only three victories closer than 10 points. They’ve been the biggest villains in what’s become the most boring, uncompetitive playoffs in recent NBA history.


Durant and the Warriors are so great, so unassailable, that they’ve turned LeBron James — the best player in the game for over a decade — into an underdog once again. They’ve actually made James’ case against Jordan stronger in some respects. Jordan never had to go through a team like Golden State to win one of his six championships, much less do so three times in as many years.


Even with LeBron fighting, we know what’s happening here after three games. The Warriors will win the title, in four or five games. They will be the best team — by far — going into next season. Kevin Durant will continue to make shots with the graceful ease we’ve seen over the last 10 seasons.


It just isn’t as definitive when there’s no competition, though. Finding Durant’s legacy will be an ongoing and frustrating conversation around the NBA. Deciding whether he deserves a third seat at LeBron and MJ’s table will take time, and perhaps moreso because of who Durant has chosen to surround himself with.


Context is everything in the NBA, and finding a comparison for Kevin Durant continues to be an impossibility.

John is a sports writer hailing from the flat part of Canada. He's an editor and podcast host at SB Nation's Raptors HQ, with other sports work published in The Classical. As a freelance reporter, he's covered sports at every level in Winnipeg: from the NHL's Jets and CFL's Blue Bombers, to CIS basketball and hockey at both major universities. In his spare time, John writes too seriously about music and posts good-to-okay photography on Instagram.

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Featured Article

Ride The Wave

Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.

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Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.

Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.

This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.

On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.

It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?

The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.

The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

Year 15 of a legacy…

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.

We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.

Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.

It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.

We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.

I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.

Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.

The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).

Stay tuned, because it’s not over.

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