By Joe Munley
It’s been coming for the better part of two seasons now. While the basketball world has been focused on a Mamba in Los Angeles, a King in Miami, and the King’s sidekick who has sadly become just as bush as he is clutch… the best player in the league has been getting even better in Oklahoma City.
So far, this post season has served as an affirmation of Durant’s superstar status. With late game heroics against the Mavericks in the first round, and now the Lakers in the second, Durant has proven that he can be counted on to actually want the ball when his last shot will be his team’s last hope… Unlike the King. He has proven that he has the calm to actually make those shots as well… Which is something the Mamba seems to have forgotten how to do. And you’d better not put him on the line with the game in the balance because he’ll calmly sink the free throws… The King and his sidekick have been allergic to the line the last two years in the waning seconds of (important) games.
Kobe has been the The Man in the league for years, but the mileage is starting to wear on him and he’s been banking far too many 5-24 shooting nights to legitimately be considered the best in the business any longer. He’s still great, he’s still got a few more miles left, but his tenure as torch bearer in the NBA is at an end.
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For years, the powers that be at ESPN & other conglomerates have drooled at the thought of that torch being passed to the marketing dream that is LeBron James. The problem is that no matter how many times the torch has been held out to him, he’s failed to take it and run with it. As great as he naturally is, he lacks something that he MUST have down the stretch of important games in order to be considered truly great. Simply put, the torch – and all that comes along with bearing it – is too heavy for LeBron to carry.
The skinny kid in Oklahoma City who looks like he’d have trouble carrying anything on his shoulders seems ready to carry what the King can’t. Kevin Durant wants the torch. He’s hungry for it. Much sooner than later, he’s going to take it and run with it.