So Kevin Durant is sick of being second best. It doesn’t change the fact that he is just that at the moment. His team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are inferior to the Miami Heat until proven otherwise, and he himself isn’t as good as LeBron James, and all of his motivation and obsession to become better than everyone else isn’t going to help.
Durant even finished second in the scoring title race, although he was shut down in the end of the season, not given the opportunity to score 70 points and try to dethrone Carmelo Anthony, but Durant knows that scoring titles don’t matter, and most would regard him as the best “pure scorer” in the NBA.
The real things that matter? Being the MVP, or at least regarded as the best in the league, and winning an NBA title. He’s finished second in the MVP voting more than once, but few would argue that he was the second best, or lower, in those years. He reached the NBA finals as the favorite to win, not to mention home court advantage, and lost. The Heat won four straight games to close out the series, and added two more wins this season to make it six in a row. Early predictions put the two teams on a collision course for a finals rematch.
Durant wants to be the best, known as the best, but he won’t be able to do it on his own, not right now. LeBron James might not be a “sweet” shooter like Durant is, but his defense and vision as a player make him the superior choice in the matchup between the two. Durant does score more than James when the two meet, usually, but it always feels like he didn’t do enough to pull his team through in the NBA finals. He was good in the 5-game series last year, but not exceptional, which is exactly what you expect from a player destined to rule the league, winning rings and MVP awards.
Once again – it’s not that up to him, but up to the more volatile ability and production of Russell Westbrook, who has had legendary games (still losing, just like Rajon Rondo in last year’s conference finals) followed by terrible ones, when his desire to show the world he’s not second to anyone either resulted in a catastrophic shooting night for him and the team.
As long as Durant has a player competing with him inside the team, even if he is one of the more talented players on the planet, it feels like his road towards that glory he feels he deserves will be blocked, or at least much harder than it should be. LeBron James and the Miami Heat, not to mention the difficulties of the West stand in the way, but sometimes the most important hurdle to overcome is within the team itself, playing next to him.