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Durant's Gold Medal performance less magic, more an omen

Sep 12, 2010, 9:55 AM EDT

If you were surprised, you need to work on your predictive logic. There was nothing surprising about Kevin Durant’s 28 point barrage to keep the good ship Team USA afloat in their FIBA Championship victory over Turkey. Nor was there anything shocking about his stunning 38 point dismantling of Lithuania in the semifinals. This is who he is. If you’ve been paying attention, this should make you shake your head in appreciation of just how incredible this kid, this 21-year-old kid, is.

The moral ascertations have already started rolling in about Durant, about how he’s the anti-LeBron, the new moral compass, and how he’ll be the best player in the NBA within a handful of years. All of these are not only entirely premature, but unfathomably lacking in perspective. Instead, let’s simply examine what Durant is revealing as his identity.

Durant’s three point attack was his particular weapon of choice today, hitting 7 of 13 from the perimeter. For all the struggles Team USA had this year in the halfcourt set, they did a remarkable job in finding ways to create space for Durant on the wing, and in the corner. From there, it was a matter of Turkey’s defense sneaking in to try and cover Team USA’s athleticism on the drive, and somehow not maintaining closing space on the best player on Team USA. The guy who had torched them from start to finish.

Durant was both opportunistic and patient. When presented with an opportunity to attack, he was aggressive. When they offered him perimeter shots, he rode that hot hand all the way to 28. He added five rebounds, two coming when the team needed to buckle down, and his defense was intent and focused.

While most of America was focused on opening weekend of the NFL, Durant put on a show in keeping Team USA afloat through three quarters of terrible shooting. It was only when Turkey ran out of steam, partially seemingly due to their frustration of being unable to make a significant dent in the American lead thanks to Durant tossing daggers like a circus performer, that the rest of Team USA woke up and buried the Turkish team once and for all.

The question we have to take from his FIBA performance is “What does this mean for his season?” Durant was already the scoring leader. His defense improved, probably more than it would have in just summer workouts alone, but still in an expected manner. His passing wasn’t more on display, nor his high post work, both limited by FIBA’s style.

But there was one thing that Durant probably made a stride in.

There were times last season, both in the regular season and their series with the Lakers, when for whatever reason, Durant wasn’t forceful in taking over in big minutes. He was brilliant, no doubt, but largely within the flow of the game. And that’s better than hogging shots and disrupting your team’s chances. But there’s something to be said for that leadership, and the leadership that comes only from riding the emotions of a team and being the focal point. Durant exhibited that leadership on all fronts in FIBA play, and that could spell huge things for the Thunder this year.

He’s already proved he can score however, whenever, over whoever. Now he may have learned how to overcome the very adversity that pushed him out of the playoffs. If his tangibles keep improving, and his intangibles make that leap?

Heaven help us all. He could have more gold sooner than we think.

  1. Doug1015 - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    If you watched the medal ceremony, did anyone hear how the crowd who are muslims, booed the USA team and the National Anthem when it played. And they call us islamicphobics….I would say they are Americanphobic or Freedomphobic. If that game had been played in the USA and a Muslim country would have won (i know, just saying) and if we would have booed their team and national athem, the whole islamic world and liberals would have started yelling and chanting anti-american crap. What a bunch of HYPOCRITES!!!!

  2. Bob - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    You’re an idiot. I had more I was going to type, but I’ll leave it there. How do I argue with someone who typed “Freedomphobic” with a total lack of irony.

  3. Cannon510 - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:52 AM

    Doug we’re lucky to live in the richest and most powerful country in the world. One of the problems in having our military occupying other countries and killing people is that people in other countries might think we’re dicks and boo us. It’s kinda like how people hate the Yankees and Lakers.

  4. JPerz - Sep 13, 2010 at 7:17 AM

    Idtiot indeed. #1 American is everyone who is born between Alaska and Argentina, America is a continent not a country. #2 Right now US is trying to impose freedom in an Islamic country, What kind of freedom us that if you don’t have another choice? They were booing with a good reason based in their situation right now. These countries like Turkey, Serbia and some others live in a very though enviroment and sports is like a window for them to relieve a little. Therefore sports means a lot more for them than for us.

  5. Arturas - Sep 13, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    They booed at their government people, but not at Americans and their anthem. It just happened so, that their prime minister walked into the field as the American Anthem was playing.. so don’t be so angry on them :) every country hates their government people :)
    P.S. I’m not a Muslim :))

  6. Victor Xavier - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.. and, i came here to see what your press is telling about the great victory at the world-championship… i read the article, than.. i read the comments… why are you always think that, all envolving u.s.a, is about politics or war? Why don’t you just read and comment like others people around the world?
    Why dont you always have to auto-promote, the richest/rich (i dont remeber how to correctly write the word), and power, from your country? Everyone knows about that… but.. why dont you cant only comment aboute the amazing sport thaT basketball is? :(

  7. KT - Sep 13, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Yep, they were booing the president of Turkey, not the USA basketball team. In fact, the Turks were standing at attention when the US anthem played in accordance with their customs regarding anthems.
    You rush to judgement too quickly without understanding what is happening.

  8. Tom Merritt - Sep 13, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    I just want to take my hat off to Kevin Durrant!! Not only is he a tremendous talent but I am even more impressed by his humility. This guy has it all going on and is the complete package. I wish him tremendous success and an injury free career. We need more elite athletes like Kevin!!

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