Dec. 25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles past Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight at 8 p.m Eastern time on TNT, history will yet again be made as two players who will likely be legends by the end of their careers will play against each other. What these two have been able to do this season has gone beyond the realm of any human.
These two have proven that they are more than mere mortals with all of the feats that they’ve been able to accomplish this season. Each, in their own right, has made a bid for the Most Valuable Player award this season.
Right now, its easy to say that LeBron is the front runner because of the historical six game stretch that he’s had in the last week or so. If you don’t know, James is the only player in NBA history to score 30 points and shoot over 60% in six straight games. James is the only player in the league this seaosn who has shot under 40% only one time and he’s shooting over 70% total in this win streak that he’s propelled Miami on.
He’s destroyed the inner demons that have plauged him. As our friends over at King James Gospel point out, LeBron has pretty much eradicated every single weakness that he’s had over the course of his career. He’s become a basketball android, as they call him.
James has seemingly pulled away from the rest of the league with his efficiency, sharpness, and basketball acumen. He’s already placed himself among the stars in basketball and is a surefire Hall of Famer. Tonight’s matchup will only be the equivalent of a grain when compared to the legacy that James will have cemented by the end of his career.
While we gush over James, we must not forget that what we’ve witnessed over the last few years is bigger than James’ basketball legacy. There’s another one, too. His name is Kevin Durant and he has something to say about everything that we say about James.
Well, not really. He usually doesn’t have much to say. The quiet, calm, unassuming star normally lets his play do the talking for him. When it talks, its loud. Durant is having quite the season himself. Sure, he hasn’t made the strides that James has this year with the improvement of this three point shot–James is shooting 42% from three. The reason why Durant’s offensive game isn’t as lauded as James’ this year is because he’s doing things we already knew he could do.
Durant earned his place in NBA history when he became the youngest scoring champion ever at the age of 21. Since then, he’s won two other scoring titles to make it three straight and he’s working on getting his fourth under his belt scoring 29 points per game at the tender age of 24.
The game doesn’t normally come this easy to younger players. That’s what makes him so special–the game is effortless for him. Everything from the way that he runs the floor to his breezy shooting stroke seems like it takes just about no effort at all to do. That’s just how good he is.
That’s not to say that Durant’s game is perfect–or close to James’, for that matter. But this season he’s starting to show us that its not far off. The Washington, D.C–or DMV–native is averaging a career high 4.4 assists per game along wiht 7.4 rebonds, 1.2 blocks, a 125 career high offensive rating, and enough responsibility on his wiry shoulders to crush a mountain.
Durant is cementing his own legacy amonst the stars as well. He comes from an area where some of the greatest players the game has ever seen in players like Elgin Baylor and Adrian Dantley have played. He’s added himself to that list and to another list–a candidate to be the greatest shooter of all time.
Its been a vastly underplayed storyline so far this season, but Durant is on pace to join the 40-50-90 club while averaging over 25 points per game. Only two players have ever accomplished that before–Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki. Two of the best 25 players of all time? I think Durant will take that. Oh, wait. I forget–he’s only 24. There’s still room to improve and grow and Durant will do just that.
Don’t be surprised if in two or three years we’re talking about him being the best player in the game instead of LeBron. But I wouldn’t be shocked if LeBron isn’t finished his prime yet either.
There’s only one thing that I can assure you–there are going to be many battles between these two for the next few years. Count me in for every matchup.