For what feels like a decade, media members crucified LeBron James for coming up short in his various attempts to capture his first NBA championship. He was labeled as mentally weak by nearly every fan, analyst, barber shop sports professional and NBA expert. In his seven years playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, James captained multiple garbage teams to the Finals a mere one time only to be swept out the door by the San Antonio Spurs when they captured their third title in five years.
The criticism of James was relentless, and as the criticism grew, James’ play on the court lessened. He’d be accused of hiding from the big moment, passively allowing other teams to beat him when they, perhaps, shouldn’t have. It wasn’t until 2012 when James captured that first elusive title he so desperately coveted that he was finally accepted as being the greatest player on the planet; he could finally win the big game.
Kevin Durant is about to embark on his eighth season in the NBA, and like James, he has only been to one NBA Finals – the same finals that James won. He is resoundingly recognized as the second-best player on the planet, but for whatever reason, he hasn’t received a fraction of the criticism the Miami Heat superstar did during his bouts of turmoil. Why not?
Durant heads up one of the best five teams in this NBA while playing in the better conference, the West. The current Thunder roster is exponentially more talented than any roster James ever played on during his time in Cleveland. Russell Westbrook is one of the top five players in the NBA, though rumors run rampant regarding friction between the two Thunder superstars.
If Durant is the superstar he is widely accepted to be, it is time to take this current team to the finals and win the whole thing this time. Durant has no limits offensively and, at times, looks to be unguardable. He is a master craftsman with the ball in his hands and has gotten progressively more skilled with each passing season. His passing has improved as well as his rebounding and field goal percentage.
If we look back on the careers of both superstars, Durant’s criticism doesn’t nearly measure up to the criticism James received during his struggling times. It is almost laughable. The biggest complaint regarding Durant is that he is not aggressive enough and doesn’t demand the ball from Westbrook in situations that he probably should. LeBron was verbally attacked and treated like a street ball peasant not worth a nickel.
There are two ways to proceed. Either Kevin Durant needs to win a championship this season, or he needs to be treated significantly harsher for his shortcomings.