Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player walking planet earth right now. He leads the second best team in the NBA. He was second in the MVP voting last year and almost certainly will be again. He was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft (behind Greg Oden and his unfortunate knees).
Durant is tired of it. He is fired up.
Durant is on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated that hits newsstands this week, and he is featured in a profile by SI’s fantastic senior writer Lee Jenkins. In that Durant is open about not liking that No. 2 label (quotes via The Oklahoman).
“I’ve been second my whole life. I was the second best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it….
“I’m not taking it easy on [LeBron]. Don’t you know I’m trying to destroy the guy every time I go on the court?”
I love that his has this fire in him. It is that drive that will some day get him all the things he wants.
But sorry Kevin, but you’re going to have to live life as No. 2 a little longer.
There will come a day when the Oklahoma City Thunder will win an NBA crown (if they keep this core together). There very likely will be an MVP or two in Durant’s future. There may well come a day when we acknowledge Durant as the best player in the world (right now I would say he’s the best scorer in the world, just ahead of ‘Melo, but he doesn’t have LeBron’s all around game).
But that year is not this year.
Barring something radical happening, it’s hard to see how the Heat team that beat the Thunder in five games last finals, that beat them twice in the regular season, that is better than they were a year ago is going to lose to the Thunder.
Just know that Durant is not going to stop trying to make it so. He wants what LeBron and Miami have.
The Baller and Chief is on his way out the door.
Barack Obama has been by far the biggest hoops fan to inhabit the White House (with John Quincy Adams a very distant second). He’s put up a basketball court at the White House, filled out NCAA Tournament brackets, jokingly applied for the Wizards’ coaching job, thought about becoming an owner, gone to NBA games, and just been a fan like the rest of us.
And he’s picking the Warriors to win it all. Like everyone else.
In what was primarily a “get out the vote” effort, President Obama called in to ‘Sway in the Morning’ hosted by Sway Calloway on Eminem’s SiriusXM channel Shade 45. Asked to pick the next NBA champ, the Bulls fan went exactly where everyone else did — Golden State.
“I’m going to go with the Warriors just because of [Kevin] Durant, that addition. I think they just have too much firepower,” Obama said. “Although they just got spanked in their first game, so it will take a while to figure things out.”
Obama also picked the Patriots to win the NFL title. He’s such a frontrunner.
With rumors of NBA expansion swirling, it’s time to look at more concrete evidence.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly shot down expansion talk, and that’s not him going rogue. His bosses have apparently taken a firm stance.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Basketball Insiders reached out to an NBA owner and a voting member of the Board of Governors and was told flatly that any talk of expansion has been shot down at every turn inside the Board of Governors meetings. It’s been a non-starter.
There is a theoretical one-time expansion fee so high where the current 30 owners would divide their shares of revenue further. But the NBA takes in so much annually, it’s hard to imagine a new ownership group could and would front enough money.
Sorry, Seattle (and Louisville and Las Vegas and…). The evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of the league staying at 30 teams. You’ll probably just have to poach a team from another city.
Greg Oden’s multiple injuries dictated the former No. 1 pick wouldn’t have the career forecasted for him.
But he returned from three years off an NBA court to play for the Heat in 2014. He followed that breakthrough with a couple tryouts and a stint in China.
Could he once again return to the league?
Dana Hunsinger Benbow of IndyStar:
Asked whether he’d play basketball again, he said, “I wish. It’s over.” Instead, he is back with the Buckeyes as a student coach, helping out the players and Matta any way he can.
Oden, who was picked one spot before Kevin Durant, once declared: “I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history and I know that it’ll only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things.” That statement is blunt, reality and sad all wrapped into one.
It’s a shame we never got to see Oden healthy for long. There was good reason for the Trail Blazers to pick him first, but injuries ruined what could’ve been an intriguing extend debate over him and Durant.
Hopefully, Oden finds fulfillment in the next chapter of his life.
The Cavaliers landing the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft seemed like a fairytale.
The consensus top choice and one of the most-hyped prospects of all-time was a local kid from nearby Akron, LeBron James.
But this happy accident didn’t come through rainbows and butterflies. To get the top seed in the lottery, Cleveland had to get bad – really bad. The Cavs missed the playoffs five straight years, bottoming out at 17-65 in 2002-03.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
When James was a teenager, he started attending games at the arena, and he couldn’t believe how bad the Cavs were, how empty the arena often was, with its bright blue seats seeming like a neon sign of disinterest. During his senior year of high school, he went to several games, was given courtside seats and visited the locker room. His thought was pretty clear after he watched that 17-win team with the lowest attendance in the league: They were awful, and he didn’t want to be a part of it.
Can we be surprised someone who grew up in Akron, Ohio, as a Bulls, Yankees and Cowboys fan didn’t want to join the Cavs? LeBron was a frontrunner.
What he didn’t realize at the time: He’d gain the power to singlehandedly transform a franchise, and he’d develop an emotional attachment to the Cavaliers.
Cleveland wasn’t going to remain unwatchable with him. He turned the Cavs into a credible championship contender. Then, after leaving for the Heat, he returned. He even delivered delivered its long-awaited title last season.
The tears of joy he cried afterward show just how much that area, including its NBA team, means to him.
That he was initially sour on the Cavaliers adds an interesting twist to the story. It doesn’t detract from it.