For the love of Michael Jeffrey Jordan—inveterate gambler, Bill-Murray-in-Lost in Translation-esque philanderer, flag-over-shoe-brand-logo patriot,
Woods, Jordan, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lawrence Taylor: pretty much a bunch of jerks. Who cares? They're all peak performers, fun to watch. And in that way, they're just like Durant. I agree with your George Gervin comparison, Jake, though with Durant's height and seemingly endless arms, there's a little Dirk Nowitzki in his game, too. Which is to say: No one in the NBA is a bigger mismatch than the Thunder forward. Not even James, a point guard blessed/cursed with Karl Malone's body. (Of course, if James ever develops a reliable post game, he'll instantly become the biggest mismatch in league history not named Shaquille O'Neal). Cover Durant with a small, quick defender, and he'll shoot over the top; check him with a big man, and he'll drive to the basket. Durant can go one-on-one with the shot clock running down. He can score just as effectively as an off-ball threat, coming off screens and curls within a structured offense. In short, he's skilled, versatile, and pretty much unguardable—consistent, Scottie Pippen-like defensive intensity and physical strength are the only two things keeping him from surpassing James as the league's top player, and guess what? Durant is only 23 years old.
In other words:, his prime years are ahead of him.
Indeed, while the basketball world—plus TMZ!—fixated on James taking his talents to South Beach for not one, not two, not three, not four (cue the Boy Band smoke machines!) but umpteen future championships, the NBA's actual next dynasty seems to be sprouting in Oklahoma City, where a young core of Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden is poised to win right now. And likely for the next decade, too. If Durant was a stock, he'd be Apple, just before the introduction of the first iPhone. I'm buying. It's nice that Durant is nice, but better that he's good.
Hampton, does anything stand between Durant and extended world basketball domination? And how sad are Portland fans—who got to watch Greg Oden for something like 82 games total over the last four years—going to be when they turn on the Finals and see yet another franchise-defining superstar who got away?