Kevin Durant has back-to-back NBA finals MVPs and two championships to go along with the four scoring titles and an MVP award he won before arriving at Golden State and lifting Dub Nation to Dynasty status.
The Warriors swept LeBron James Cavs team in the 2018 Finals. LeBronaveraged 34.0 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds in the four games, but Durant got the best of James, took home another Finals MVP and in the mind of some fans, made huge strides towards dismissing the notion of this gaping chasm between LBJ and everyone else in the league.
Kevin Durant did not have to say it, but this statement was taken by many as a veiled reference to LeBron James.
It seems as if KD is confident enough in himself to finally lick some down-low shots at LeBron. He says he feels validated now that he has found so much championship success. He also implies that he’s been able to conquer the tough task of asserting himself as a superior player who doesnt have to do all of the work for his team, which makes his role a tougher one than LeBrons ball dominating brand of ball.
In fact, per Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports, Durant said it’s easier to be great when the talent around you is lacking:
“I feel like it’s easy to be the best player when you don’t have good players around you. I feel like it’s harder to stand out when you have great players around you. I pride myself on standing out wherever I am. I pride myself on working hard wherever I go. And I feel like these guys embraced me and I feel like I’m a Warrior.”
Was that a knock on LeBron, who was catching statistical wreck as Clevelands one-man wrecking crew, but couldn’t galvanize his squad towards a better effort in a finals sweep?
I get where Durant is coming from and what his intentions were with that statement. LeBron was getting so much respect for his offensive output during the playoffs and the burden he carries. Fans acted as if theyve never seen an NBA player score before or have to carry a group of sub-par cats up the mountain of success. Durant has won scoring titles and carried squads at times. Hes also had to scale back his game for Russell Westbrook, and then for the All-Stars he joined on Golden State, while still maintaining his superstar status.
To be fair, its similar to what LeBron had to do when he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Durant followed LeBrons blueprint, however, and its almost as if he’s beaten King James at his own game. Durant is feeling himself and beginning to throw that in Bron’s face.
Kevin Durant sums up that championship feeling! #ThisIsWhyWePlay https://t.co/5wudfgTvwk
Durants choice to join the Warriors after being eliminated by them in the playoffs in the summer of 2016 is still a very controversial topic to a lot of fans, media and basketball heads. Its a choice that Durant still receives criticism for, but no one can deny that he made the right decision if being a part of something historical was his goal.
Naturally, when you become part of a dynasty, while your personal stats may suffer, your value as a superstar who can carry the load if necessary, as he did with a 43-point explosion in Game 3 and also fall back as he did when Steph Curry went off for 37 in Game 4, rises every time you lift that Larry OBrien award.
So what we will see in the upcoming weeks is a complete shift in the narrative. The media, fans and NBA have been pounding LeBron James GOAT status and greatness down our throats. Now that Durant has captured more accolades and has become the flavor of the month again, the narrative is already shifting to “Durant has closed the gap on LeBron.”
Durant may not be No. 1, but hes a clear No. 2 with his eyes set on the No. 1 spot. At least until LeBron finds a home this summer and whichever team he joins becomes the favorite to take down Golden State.