In the aftermath of FIBA supremacy in Turkey, the Kevin Durant bandwagon has snowballed into a belief. LeBron James has witnesses (99% reside outside of Cleveland). Durant has believers. To believe in Durant is to believe that he is not LeBron. The former is a go-to-guy who went berserk in the FIBA World Championships. The latter is a go-to-guy who went soft in the eyes of critics. LeBron’s bandwagon is headed for South Beach. Durant’s bandwagon seems headed for world domination.
Today isn’t the best time to profess unquestionable loyalty to the King. NBA beat writers highlight Durant’s humility the same way they frown on LeBron’s hubris. I don’t condemn what James did. I don’t totally agree with those who condemn how he did it. But if many judge LeBron for all the supposedly wrong moves he made, twice as many feel Durant has made all the right moves up to this point. I can’t help but agree.
Meet the NBA’s answer to The Decision. I won’t be surprised if the league portrays Durant as the anti-LeBron. But wait. How come nobody wants to drag Kobe Bryant’s name in the mix? Bryant just won a championship and NBA titles function as immunity bracelets. James, therefore, isn’t protected from the backlash of playoff failure. James is also not exempt from the unjust burden of comparison.
Durant is such a physical specimen. It’s difficult to compare him with anyone else. He’s like George Gervin mixed with a dash of David Thompson, I think. I can’t compare him with Michael Jordan the way people tend to do with LeBron and Kobe. He’s not Magic Johnson even if he’s 6’10. He’s not Larry Bird even if he shoots threes like there was nothing to it. Here’s a stretch; think Yancy de Ocampo if he plays like Sol Mercado and James Yap on a hot streak.
I wouldn’t be surprised if NBA executives are body-bumping each other in delight. They’ve found the air freshener that will combat the stink of LeBron’s off-season egopalooza. Durant pushed the Lakers to DEFCON 2. He led Team USA to the championship. If he carries the Thunder to the 2011 Western Conference Finals, he’ll complete the feel-good trifecta his bandwagon will root for. The Durant mass-movement is at its strongest. LeBron’s legend is at its strangest. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Thunder suddenly becomes America’s team and Durant becomes America’s player.
Even during the Beijing Olympics, LeBron wasn’t “The Boss" even if he played like a beast. We wait for James to rule South Beach (if Wade allows it). All will change when LeBron wins his ring. He wants to win a championship the best way he knows how. I respect that. Durant, in the meantime, remains Oklahoma City’s scorer almighty and Team USA’s Superman in sneakers. There is no backlash when a guy wants to be “The Man" even if it means carrying an NBA team, a national team and eventually an entire league on his skinny shoulders.
Mico Halili, GMA News