Kevin Durant has been considered second best as far back as high school. 2005 was a year full of basketball hype with everyone singing the praises of Greg Oden. Kevin Durant never seemed to overcome the perception that Oden was the obvious choice to become the future of the NBA.
Even as Durant destroyed college competition at the University of Texas and Oden played an injury plagued freshman campaign, scouts still had Durant penciled in as second best. Leading up to the draft there was a great deal of debate and discussion, but the collective agreement was “don’t pass up Greg Oden”. Sure enough, Greg Oden went number one in the 2007 NBA draft. Kevin Durant was number two again.
As their rookie seasons started to develop, it became clear that Durant was far superior to his rival. As Kevin Durant’s career has soared with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder franchise, Greg Oden’s career has sunk. Nobody would dare discuss the Durant vs. Oden debate anymore. But there is a new playing field. It isn’t just Greg Oden anymore. There is a massive force known as LeBron James.
Since entering the NBA in 2007, Kevin Durant has not been able to get out from under the King sized shadow of LeBron. Three times he has finished second to LeBron in the MVP voting. In 2012, Kevin Durant and the Thunder finished second in the NBA finals to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Now, six years in, Kevin Durant is done being second. He’s ready to be number one. Back in December, Durant toldSports Illustrated:
“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.”
Durant has won three of the last four scoring titles, coming in second last year because he sat out the last game. But scoring title aren’t enough. He wants to be the best player on the NBA’s best team. This season, he has been putting together what is quickly becoming one of the greatest seasons ever. Averaging 31.3 points, 5.2 assists, and 7.8 rebounds, the debate about NBA MVP has shifted decidedly in Durant’s favor over LeBron James.
Heading into Wednesday nights match up against the Miami Heat, Durant still had plenty to prove. As Ric Flair used to say, “You have to beat the best to be the best”. Kevin Durant carries a King sized chip on his shoulder now. There are no hard feelings between the two NBA greats, but Durant wants to finally be number one. And Wednesday night, Kevin Durant showed the world that he’s ready to overthrow King James. The Thunder crushed the Heat, with Durant leading the way scoring 33 points.
Kevin Durant isn’t fooled. Regular season wins, scoring titles, and one on one victories look good. But until his team hoists the trophy, Kevin Durant knows he can’t be number one. When the NBA finals roll around next Summer, don’t be surprised to see Kevin Durant there grinning from ear to ear.