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Kevin Durant, flawed and perfect

Sep 13, 2010, 9:30 AM EDT

kevin_durant_team_usa.jpgKevin Durant has yet to disappoint. He had a fantastic rookie year, has grown in each of his three seasons in the NBA, and emerged as one of the top players in the game. KD’s also riding a hell of a PR typhoon after the tectonic shift known as The Decision changed, well, everything. LeBron James’ hubris has cut him down from favored status, and in his place now stands Durant, the do-no-wrong king of the upstart Thunder and most recently, medaled national hero.

Not that KD has surpassed LeBron on the court. Whether that’s even a possibility is still to be determined, but at present, no NBAer’s star is more likely to supernova. Durant is that good, and right now he’s sitting on top of the basketball universe.

Unfortunately, that leaves Durant with an awfully long way to fall.

Even if KD’s game is only getting better and better, it’s possible that this is the best it gets for Durant’s image. He’ll win some, he’ll lose some. He’ll fall short of some expectations and shatter others. Yet the longer Durant stays in the NBA, the more time the now-adoring public will have to pick him apart. Even the great ones have their flaws, and in case those flaws aren’t flammable enough on their own, the sports sphere is never short on gasoline.

Durant is the type of talent and person that should be enjoyed. He deserves to be praised, and it’s not surprising that NBA fans have latched on to him as they have. He’s also exactly what he’s pegged as being: just a normal guy.

KD isn’t a megalomaniac, but he’s also mortal, even if his game hints otherwise. The limits and quirks that make Durant so endearing are the same ones that will eventually tarnish him, just as they did with LeBron, and for that matter, with just about every other prominent star that ever laced ‘em up. We love NBA players for their flaws, even if with Durant, we haven’t quite realized it yet.

His range is unbelievable, but sometimes he leans too heavily on his jumper as a result. He’s confident in his own abilities, but sometimes tries to do just a bit too much. He’s neck-deep in the game he loves, but maybe that makes him just a bit detached.

Can KD drop 40 with a flick of his wrist? Surely. Is his work ethic so intense that he refuses a proper vacation? Certainly. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been down this road before, with other remarkable men and remarkable athletes. The lesson in all of this isn’t that Durant is spectacularly flawed, even if he ends up being so. It’s not even that the ever-present disconnect between fan and athlete (or media and athlete, for that matter) precludes us from ever really knowing players like Durant.

The takeaway is that the fall is a part of the game (not the game, but the game), and the flaws spotlighted in the process are typically par for the professional athlete course — bloated egos, the obsessive need to control, etc. However, when the beams dim a bit and the glare disappears, we find comfort in those same traits under gentler light. If I can shift metaphors from the stage to the screen: those flaws that endure, through the ups and the downs, put the stars of the NBA in vivid technicolor.

Durant is brilliant, but only because his flaws make him so. Perfection is boring. Limits are everything, even if they exist solely to be bent and broken, set and reset.

  1. Dave Thomas - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    This is a strange column and you are a weirdo.

  2. zebulon - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    No real content here…
    you’re a better writer than this, I’m disappointed

  3. DavesNotHere - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    agreed. strange & weird

  4. James - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Seems like he really didn’t have anything to write about but was probably told he had to right something… Or he felt he had to write something. but yes, strange and weird.

  5. McShaq - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    You mention flaws over and over but don’t explain much, something
    about relying too much on his jump shot. And yes, it is a possibility that KD surpasses LeBron on the court in a few years.\
    Agreed, terrible writing.

  6. Nimrod - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    The article sucks, this is true…but the concept that Durant can eventually passed LBJ is intriguing…Durant is a better shooter and better competitor than Lebron…If he can get his team in the finals over the next two years which will be a tremendous challenge, he will supersede Lebro…Don’t get me wrong I love Bron’s game…but Durant’s shot is unstoppable…McShaq, are you the kid from Seattle?

  7. Yum - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    Mmmmm… article is sooooo fluffy… so sleepy now.

  8. bob - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Flaws, Flaws?
    I’m Hanging on the Edge of My Chair Here!!!
    I Can’t Take It!!!
    Good God Man, What Flaws?
    I Finished the Article, but No Explanation!
    WHAT ARE HIS FLAWS?

  9. JF - Sep 13, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    What an odd article. This article sounds like the author is complaining that there isn’t anything negative to write about KD. It really sounds like he is hoping KD screws up so he can have some scandalous article to post. How lame!

  10. Anonymous - Sep 13, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    that’s an awesome comment

  11. Elizabeth Keel - Sep 13, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    Rob-take a day off already! Kevin Durant is showing NBA fans what a real professional looks like. He is a great athlete and seems to be a good moral person. Doesn’t seem to have the snotty attitude that turns off a lot of people who watch the games. I really appreciate finally getting to see a young player who isn’t a jerk even if it doesn’t give you something to write about. Durant appears to love the game and feels priviledged to be a part of it. Very refreshing!

  12. Larry - Sep 14, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    KD is no doubt a great player, but this years tourney lacked a lot of great players. Turkolu was the US’s biggest compettion in the finals.
    That says it all.

  13. Dr. Warren - Sep 14, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    This seems like a creative writing piece, or something written to showcase “writerly” abilities. Good expository writing hinges on examples and other evidence to support your ideas.
    We still don’t know what flaws you’ve noticed, if any.

  14. Scottland - Sep 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Don’t perpetuate the Durant-love-fest just for kicks. If there’s something to write about, write it. If not, don’t just write about Durant because he exists.

  15. Scott - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:04 AM

    Uh, actually, I can stop Durant’s shot

  16. John - Sep 15, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    With idiots like this, it’s no wonder rich people want to go live in other countries that actually educate people well. Who would want to invest in a company in the U.S. with idiots like this guy as potential employees?

  17. Tman - Sep 16, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Would you be one those very very enlightened people who spend their “work” time investing in companies who, in turn invest in those brilliant people who do things like embezzle money, run ponzi schemes and generally gamble with other peoples money? Those very ethical types that do call girls one night and then take the kids to a Broadway show the next. How’s the high ground??
    Take your money and so very “richness” and you may go now….First Class of course!!!

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