NBA MVP: Kevin Durant

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Tuesday, May 06, 2014 with No comments
There are times when it's ok to admit that one was wrong, wrong in judgment or assumption.  Wrong with a life altering decision or wrong with choosing which sneaks to lace up for a daily trip to the court that we all love.  The one constant here is being wrong but then comes the acceptance of one's....wrong.  The admission that a mistake was made and the journey to move forward can be life altering, mind calming.  The following is an admittance that yes I was wrong and despite wanting to be right so bad I was blind to what was happening in front of me, Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City is the NBA's Most Valuable Player.  The picture to the right illustrates my most significant image of Durant, succumbing to the immense gravity of the moment after a devastating defeat in the 2012 NBA Finals, a Finals that I attended but the significance of that image has been eviscerated in the mind of many.  The winds of change are constantly flowing through the NBA and now Durant stands a top of the shoulders of giants as the new face of the league.

Being anointed as next in line is a pressure that many have succumbed to.  Ghosts of NBA's Past like Anfernee Hardaway and Grant Hill had fallen victim to being once herald as the face of the league.  Greats like Kobe Bryant carried the mantle but many saw Bryant as being prepped his entire life for the moment.  Durant took a slightly different path, growing up in the Washington D.C. area and playing on several AAU teams which also featured NBA stars Michael Beasley and Ty Lawson.  That's where of legend of "35" was born, the grit of "Chocolate City" gave birth to Durant and it was a tragedy that allowed the ascension to begin.  Kevin Durant begin wearing the #35 to honor his AAU coach Charles Craig who was murdered at the age of.......35.

Fast forward to this current season and 4 scoring championships later, Kevin Durant has without a doubt proved that he is ready to carry the mantle.  This season alone he went on a terrible scoring tear all the while putting the NBA on notice by scoring at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games breaking a record held by NBA Legend Michael Jordan.  The irony is that Durant didn't care about breaking Jordan's record; it was a natural occurrence as Durant paced the Oklahoma City Thunder on his back night after night to eventually lead then to the 2nd overall playoff seed in the NBA's Western Conference.  Durant was able to accomplish this despite his dynamic teammate Russell Westbrook missing 35 games due to various knee injuries.  The regular season saw Durant average 32 points (career high), 5.5 assists (career high) and 7.4 rebounds per game which was stellar considering that Durant has yet to max out his abilities, his ascension continues season by season.

One is hungry for more and the other wants to keep what he has

In order to reach this moment in time, a moment where he is now officially recognized as the games best player, Kevin Durant had to displace the two time defending MVP in LeBron James.  James's goal was to keep what was his while Durant was hungry for more but for Durant this is not the final destination.  A perfect season would include winning his first NBA Championship and it would be heavenly if he were to vanquish LeBron James and the Miami Heat to do so, erasing the stinging sin of losing to James in the Finals of 2012.  The anticipation of a rematch occurring this season is astronomical and parallels can even be made to a season 21 years ago where again one was hungry for more and the other wanted to keep what he had.

At that time Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were fighting for the right to 3 peat and he was challenged by good friend Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns who had the league's best record at 62-20.  Jordan was the time 2 defending MVP and Barkley, in his first year in Phoenix, was hungry for more and captured the league's MVP with averages of 25.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 12.2 rebounds per game.  The two Basketball Hall of Famers engaged in an epic battle during the 1993 NBA Finals which saw Jordan average 41 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.  The 1993 NBA Finals saw Jordan average the most points per game in his six finals appearances and after six grueling games, the Bulls stood victorious and despite the hunger of Barkley, Jordan was able to keep what he had.  Despite the loss, from that moment on Barkley was considered as an all-time great in the history of the league and 3 short years later during the ending chapters of his career, Barkley was named alongside of Jordan as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players.

If hindsight is indeed 20/20 then it's easy to say that despite setting the league on fire this past regular season, Kevin Durant could once again fall in the NBA Finals at the hands of LeBron James.  In similar fashion to Barkley, Kevin Durant can move from the realm "potentially" to being considered as one of the games all-time greats; a feat even more incredible once one realizes that Durant is still entering his prime.  A second loss in the NBA Finals could propel Durant into the stratosphere, the process of turning a negative into a positive akin to Kobe Bryant who led the Los Angeles Lakers to back to back championships after being defeated in the finals by the Boston Celtics (2008).

Lasting images are as powerful as they come and despite Kevin Durant being an NBA player with tremendous talent, the image of his NBA Finals failure from 2012 is etched in my mind, forged by the pain of defeat and the fire displayed not by Durant but by teammate Russell Westbrook.  He's gotten a pass by many insiders but will receive no such pass here.  Call it selfish, wrong or even hater-ish but out of respect for his talent, respect for the rivalry that I want and need in the NBA and respect for the league's future; I need my lasting image of Kevin Durant to simply be raising this................................