It was inevitable after LeBron’s nightmarish one-hour “Decision” special and Kevin Durant’s…tweet. Two young superstars, two very different ways of announcing their future intentions – of course people would compare the two, and of course Durant would come out looking much better. But after looking into this some more, I’m convinced the comparison just isn’t fair.
Why? Because no comparison where Durant’s humility is involved can be fair. He is too good to be true in this respect (and pretty much is in a basketball respect, too). Everything Durant has ever done indicates his humble persona is not an act in the least, and it is completely unrealistic to expect anyone with his combination of youth, talent, and wealth to act that way. But he does.
Really, LeBron’s “global icon” dreams and ego are much more in line with how a player like that might be expected to act. (And to be fair to LeBron, the hype surrounding him since his high school days has always been far, far greater than any spotlight on Durant.)
Durant? Well, when he received all that praise for his low-key announcement of his contract extension with the Thunder (praise he was worthy of receving, by the way), here’s how he responded:
I really don’t deserve this praise for handling my deal the way I did…plenty of guys did it the way I did…
Of course he said that. I mean, even his Twitter background picture is of him on the sidelines with his arms around two teammates, for crying out loud. He’s never just about himself.
And speaking of him being an absurdly good teammate, there’s this:
Durant, general manager Sam Presti and coach Scott Brooks flew in from Orlando on Friday morning, after the final game of the Thunder’s summer league. Durant was there all week, working out with the squad at 6:45 a.m. practices and cheering on the summer-league team all five games.
Brooks said he never saw another veteran player from any team in Orlando all week (though the Magic’s Vince Carter was there at least one day). “I love the things you think are rare are normal for Kevin,” Brooks said. “6:30 workouts are rare? That’s normal for Kevin.
People just don’t do that – especially not players as good as Durant. And one has to think he’ll stay this way – if he were going to get overly enamored of his own abilities, it would have happened already. After all, this is a guy who’s 21 and has already averaged 30 points per game over an entire season.
But despite having already accomplished more than most NBA players ever do, the only thing Durant seems interested in is getting better and devoting himself to the game. Witness these other tweets, one here:
I just like to watch basketball, I jus love basketball.that’s why I go to the draft and to summer league and all that stuff.that’s all it is
And, just as importantly, this one, where he says his favorite part of being an NBA player is that his life revolves around basketball. The celebrity that comes with the job is secondary. The guy just wants to play ball.
People with Durant’s natural gifts are extremely rare. People with his maniacal (but healthily channeled) attitude toward getting better are rare, too. People with both? Forget it.
Durant would probably be a star if he had just one of those qualities, but with both, he’s going to be an all-time great (as Bill Simmons has so often predicted) barring unforeseen catastrophe. We can wish LeBron had his kind of attitude, but I can’t blame him that he doesn’t. Almost no one does. And that’s why I suspect that by the time he’s finished playing, Kevin Durant will accomplish things almost no one has.