As basketball fans, we are privileged to have such an entertaining NBA Finals set up for this season. Of course it would be better if the Celtics were in it instead of the Heat, but one can’t argue over how exciting it will be to watch LeBron James and Kevin Durant go head-to-head with each other.
For the past half decade, Kobe Bryant and James were arguably the two best players in the NBA. Some believed Bryant was number one and James number two, or vice versa. Some probably believed Derrick Rose deserved to be in that conversation as well. But recently, Durant has become a viable answer to the question ‘who is the best player in the league?’
With a Heat vs. Thunder Finals matchup slated to begin on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, we wonder who is the better player to have. It’s Kevin Durant. It’s not just his play on the court that makes him such a top flight player, but it is how he conducts himself as a teammate off the court, as well.
James has all these endorsements and is a pop culture figure along with being this season’s MVP. He’s still a great player, one of the best all time, no doubt about it. He is a better player than Durant on the defensive end of the court, whereas Durant’s defense isn’t his strong suit. However, players who are not a public distraction tend to be less self-centered and more team-oriented.
A star player’s job is to make those around him better and every player should know that. James might not. When he chose to take his talents to South Beach, he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade was the star on Miami and Bosh with the Raptors. When Shaquille O’Neal left the Heat, Wade was the lone man to run that team. Bosh was always the go-to man north of the border.
James, Wade and Bosh came together to run the Heat believing they would lead the team to multiple championships together as a group. These are three all-stars who came together to form the most experienced trio in modern day basketball and the Thunder have done the same thing but in different fashion.
Oklahoma City (then the Seattle SuperSonics) drafted Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder drafted James Harden in 2009. OKC’s Big Three have worked together to become great, while James went from ‘Witness’ to ‘Quitness’ when he ditched his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami. Durant is clearly the leader of that trio and has taught younger, inexperienced players how to contribute. Players like Serge Ibaka and even Harden have only been in the league for two full seasons.
James is the better player, but Durant isn’t as self-centered. Durant wants to help people work with him to be great. When he was drafted and had a great first season, he didn’t demand trades to play with better players. He waited. He was hoping to establish his own great team and that’s what he has done. On the other hand, James couldn’t wait. He was tired of losing in the playoffs and had to win a championship.
LeBron might be a better player because he has the skills on offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but Durant is more of a team player and tries to include everyone in the offense to make one great team of 15 guys instead of James, who, along with Wade and Bosh, tried to create a great team of three.
Selfish much? Edge goes to Durant.