Jun 7, 2012, 2:48 AM EDT
It was always going to be like this.
Build your skill set in the comfort of a rebuilding team with low expectations. Take the next step as an exciting bad team in a new environment with a surprisingly rabid crowd. Make the jump to the playoffs and put a shock on the champs, showing that you’re coming. Learn what disappointment is in a Conference finals loss to a stellar team that would go on to win the NBA championship. Come back stronger. Smarter. Better. Win your division. Beat the team who beat you last season. Beat the team who beat you the year before. Beat the standard bearer in the West.
Advance to the NBA finals with a rousing 107-99 comeback victory.
Take your place.
This is Kevin Durant, and he was always destined for this.
From the moment he stepped onto the scene, from D.C. to Austin, Texas to Oklahoma City, this was coming. He even came with the big debate about him or another player who wound up star-crossed. This is how legends are built in the NBA, and now it’s Durant’s time for ascension.
There will be no questions about Kevin Durant going without a field goal in the fourth quarter of Game 6. Because Wednesday night was not about one game. It was about five years of building, five years of development, five years of smart drafting and player development by Thunder general manager Sam Presti, five years of a small city buying in, five years of Durant game-winners, big shots, and prolific performances.
There will be comparisons to Michael Jordan in 1991, to the greats in this game over time. There will be questions of whether he’s ready to win the NBA finals, or whether this team can really get it done.
But do not be confused. What has happened in the middle of the okra fields in Oklahoma is not some smoke-and-mirrors job. It’s not about a falsehood built on a dream. This is reality. It’s been coming for years.
Durant’s game is a force of its own now. It’s not just the swift shooting, the range, the quick release. He has added so many weapons. He’s able to make the smart play. He’s able to slip the screen. He finishes with authority, he presses when he senses vulnerability and he hesitates when the defense adjusts. And he defends. Tenaciously, using those long arms and quick feet. He’s no longer the skinny-waist kid throwing up threes. He’s the skinny-waist man playing a complete game. This is the nexus of Kevin Durant and it’s a sight to behold.
When the Thunder faced a double-digit deficit at halftime on Wednesday and it appeared the Spurs would push the series back to San Antonio and a miserable Game 7, Durant set the tone. Immediately in the third, he sparked the team. He finished with 14 points in the quarter, missing two shots and a field goal on 11 total attempts from the field and stripe.
Durant can do all those other things now, that’s why he’s a different player. But he’s also the same. He’s a scorer. That’s his core. And these playoffs have been about huge shots from Durant, his range burying the opponent, his length rattling them. Durant is the best offensive weapon in the league, and that’s why the Thunder are moving on.
Who’s to say the Thunder won’t get beaten in the finals, another step that Durant and company have to live through in his career? What if the Thunder’s good fortune runs out? No one remembers teams that make the finals and lose. Durant could fall by the wayside, could become just another team that reached the gates but couldn’t get through — another almost st0ry.
But somehow, this feels different, this year or next, the year after or the year after. This is all part of the plan. This is the story of Kevin Durant.
And it was always going to be this way.
May 23, 2013, 2:39 AM EDT
For the 145th time since they joined forces in Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh finished as the Heat’s top three scorers. For the first time in the 2013 calendar year, the fourth-leading scorer – Chris Andersen – scored more than 15 points. It’s been much less of a concern that many expected…
May 23, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
America, meet Paul George. He’s the Pacer that hit the insane, dramatic three pointer that sent Game 1 against the Heat into overtime. He’s the guy that drew the superstar call on Dwyane Wade, then with ice water in his veins hit three free throws to give Indiana the lead with 2.2 seconds left in…
Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’
May 23, 2013, 1:49 AM EDT
The Heat came away with the 103-102 overtime victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, thanks to a triple-double performance from LeBron James, which included hitting the game-winning layup as time expired. The words “game-winning layup” should never be a relevant phrase this deep into the postseason; teams normally defend…
May 23, 2013, 1:16 AM EDT
The Pacers gave the Heat all they wanted in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but in the end, the game’s best player — along with some questionable coaching strategy down the stretch — was too much for Indiana to overcome. LeBron James finished with a triple-double line of 30 points, 10 rebounds, and…
May 23, 2013, 12:28 AM EDT
Paul George hit a big time shot at the end of regulation to get the Pacers to overtime, but once we got to the end of the extra session, LeBron James took his turn at the last-second heroics. With the Heat trailing by one and 2.2 seconds remaining, James receives the inbounds pass and immediately…
May 22, 2013, 11:50 PM EDT
At the beginning of this possession, it looked like Paul George of the Pacers made a huge mistake by not raising up for the shot when he first received the ball at the top of the arc. As the seconds ticked away and with the Pacers down three, things seemed to be breaking down to…
May 22, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder was clearly bothering him through much of the playoffs, but he fought through it as best he could averaging 28.8 points per game (on just 40.1 percent shooting, down from 44 in the regular season) with 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He injured it in Game 5 against the Celtics and went…
May 22, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski coming back to coach Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics is certainly a good step toward another gold medal for the Americans. Coach K has been 62-1 at the helm of USA Basketball. But it’s not the biggest key. That would be getting LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the elite talent of…
May 22, 2013, 7:36 PM EDT
Economists have done countless studies that show the economic impact of major league sports — and especially the impact of building new arenas and stadiums — are pretty negligible, often even painful for individual cities. I believe that. But it’s still hard to explain just what it meant to Charlotte to get the Hornets. We…
May 22, 2013, 7:32 PM EDT
We mentioned this in our story telling you Mike Krzyzewski will be back as head coach of Team USA for the 2016 Olympics — there might be some changes to his staff. One bit of news is in — Mike D’Antoni is out as an assistant coach, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.…
May 22, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
For the next few weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today we talk about one of the best dunker’s in the game right now. San Diego State is turning out some talent under Steve Fisher the last few years. That Kawhi Leonard guy is giving the Grizzlies…
May 22, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT
It’s no secret that the Dallas Mavericks want to get a big star to pair with — and eventually take over the franchise mantle from — Dirk Nowitzki. And there are only two franchise-caliber players on the market this season, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But to offer a max contract Dallas has to make…
May 22, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Kevin Durant has a plenty of business tattoos — he’s got ink, just not where it shows when wearing a basketball uniform. Somehow this shocked people, although if most of those people saw the 25-year-old from accounting they think so highly of out on the weekend they’d find he has ink under his suit to.…
May 22, 2013, 2:43 PM EDT
Not that there was any real question after he played in Game 5 against the Bulls then had a week off to rest his bruised knee but now it is official: Dwyane Wade will play for the Heat in Game 1 against the Pacers Wednesday night. So reports Tim Reynolds of the AP and the…
May 22, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
There is no need to panic Spurs fans. Not yet. Tony Parker has been playing through a sore calf for a while now and playing well — to the tune of 14 points and 18 assists in the Spurs overtime win Tuesday night. But after the game he was limping a little around the locker…
May 22, 2013, 1:09 PM EDT
Looks like Kevin Love will not have to do any recruiting after all. After saying before, during and immediately after Team USA won the gold medal in London last summer that he was done as the head coach of the team, Mike Krzyzewski has had a change of heart. Coach K will be back to…
May 22, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT
We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to…
May 22, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
If you want to know what happens when you to right at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert at the rim, watch the video above or ask Carmelo Anthony — Hibbert sent him back dramatically in Game 6 last round. It changed the momentum of the game that eventually sent the Knicks fishing for the summer. So, LeBron…
May 22, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
Whenever the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends — which could be sooner rather than later if they don’t start cutting off Tony Parker at the point of attack, but that’s another post — Lionel Hollins is going to be a popular guy. Hollins’ contract is up as coach of the end of this season, and while…
- Chris Andersen complements Heat’s Big Three so well 5
- Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’ 4
- LeBron’s triple-double, game-winner in overtime lead Heat to Game 1 win over Pacers 16
- LeBron’s game-winning layup at the overtime buzzer gives Heat Game 1 win over Pacers (VIDEO) 18
- Report: Carmelo Anthony has torn labrum, may need surgery 5
- Report: Dwight Howard will consider multiple teams in free agency, is said to be most intrigued by the Rockets (122)
- Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson (89)
- Alonzo Mourning says Scottie Pippen says LeBron would “kick Jordan’s ass” (75)
- Bradley Beal said he’d lose respect for a teammate who acted like Derrick Rose (67)
- Pacers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 6 win over Knicks (60)
- LeBron stuns Pacers with OT winner in Game 1
- Pens overwhelm Sens, take 3-1 series lead
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- HBT: Canseco suspect in Vegas sexual assault
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games