Oklahoma City Thunder's Durant takes part in a team practice for the NBA basketball finals in Oklahoma City

Dirk Nowitzki says Durant way ahead of where he was at 23. He’s right.


It’s very difficult to compare Kevin Durant to another player past or present, because there is nobody quite like him — long, deadly on the catch-and-shoot but can attack off the dribble, can play isolation or within the offense, and with a shot that is virtually unblockable.

The closest thing on offense may be Dirk Nowitzki — a 7’0” jump shooter with seemingly unlimited range and an unblockable shot. They’re not the same, but there are similarities.

So Dirk, how would you compare yourself and KD? (via ESPNDallas.com)

“KD,” Nowitzki says, “is way ahead of my curve….

“He’s a 6-10 guy with a 7-4 wingspan who can shoot it from the parking lot. He’s posting up now. In transition he’s so long that, when he gets a pass from the 3-point line, it’s a layup or dunk with one step. He’s got the one- or two-dribble pull-up, which you need to be a great scorer, because you can’t just shoot 3s or go to the basket if you want to be a great scorer, ’cause sometimes you can’t get all the way to the bucket. He can go both ways, one or two dribbles and up.

“And he’s clutch, too. He’s hit big shot after big shot all season long.”

Wow. That’s some serious praise.

It’s a little hard to compare the guys because Nowitzki is a four and Durant is a three, although neither really fit into any easy to define mold.

But Nowitzki is right — Durant is on a higher curve.

Nowitzki is no slouch — at age 23 he averaged 23.4 points per game, shot 47.7 [percent overall and 39.7 percent form three, with a PER of 24.1, plus he got invited to his first All-Star Game.

But Durant averaged 28 points a game (to lead the league) on 49.6 percent shooting, hit 38.7 percent on his threes, had a PER of 26.2 and played in his third All-Star Game.

And Durant may have his first title at 23. Dirk had to wait another 9 years. Just a different trajectory.

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.