Durant is Still Far From LeBron's Level

In one of the more predictable NBA award races in some time, Kevin Durant took the MVP trophy from LeBron James, the guy that was known as the player Durant would never beat.

[Getty Images]
Also known as the guy that Durant has still never beaten.

Yes, Kevin Durant won the MVP in 2014, and did it in an unbelievably convincing fashion. It would be stupid for me to sit here and knock Durant’s stellar year – what he did, with what little he had, was a remarkable thing to watch.

But, once Durant accepted that MVP trophy, the following knee jerk reactions from the now-now-now people began to embed themselves in the mindsets of sports fans all around: Durant is better than LeBron James.

To that, I call foul.

There are a lot of sports fans – like myself – that view Durant 1a to James’ 1. And, despite the fact that Durant’s MVP trophy came while James is in his prime, it does not sway my viewpoint on the head-to-head battle between the world’s two greatest players.

Kevin Durant still has a lot to prove.

Winning the MVP is a great addition to any NBA career. But, people forget that we have yet to see Durant take his team to the promised land (except if you count his five-games-and-out Finals run in 2012), and for Durant to be placed into LeBron James-type conversation, he will need to win a ring.

It’s as simple as that.

Now, I understand that it took James seven seasons to win his first championship – Durant has finished six – so my leash is still relatively loose on the Thunder star. On the other hand, if Durant and the Oklahoma City bow out early this season against the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals series, I will not budge in my beliefs that he should not be put in James’ echelon.

Let’s be honest here: whether he wins the MVP every year, or not, LeBron James is the greatest basketball player on the planet right now. Nobody matches his individual athleticism, and his ability to turn that innate ability into otherworldly results on-the-court is what makes him unique. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s won back-to-back championships, and has produced record-setting, defining moments in each of those playoff runs.

Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player on this planet. He is also athletic – but not as athletic as James. He uses that athleticism to make electrifying plays on the court – but not as much as James. And he’s knocked on the door, but hasn’t won a championship yet. James has twice.

I did not intend to make this article a public showing of me killing Durant. In fact, I really like his game and everything he brings to the table.

But that doesn’t stop me from drawing a definitive line in the sand: the best-in-the-NBA conversation still is owned by James, and I can’t put anyone in his class if they haven’t put together sustained, consistent success in the regular season and playoffs.

If Durant finishes 2014 strong (or, in other words, the Thunder avoid making fools of themselves (see: 2013)), I will be the first to stand here to say that he may belong where only number six walks.

However, until then, LeBron is in a universe of his own.

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