Durant has more to lose. So, why are we talking more about LeBron's legacy in the 2017 NBA Finals?
At first glance of the 2017 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant would appear to be the player with the most to lose in regards to his legacy. His departure from OKC to Golden State all but guaranteed a first championship for him. After all, that’s why KD left—to win a championship. An obvious favorite with a 2-0 series lead, the Warriors are on the verge of delivering that coveted title to Durant.
However, it isn’t Durant that has the most to lose with this series. Somehow, despite being the underdog, LeBron James’ legacy relies most on the outcome.
I’m not quite sure how it happened, but those tuning in to analysts and looking at social media reactions would agree that LeBron’s legacy is at greater risk. None of it really makes sense. James really has nothing left to prove. He’s won a few MVP awards. He’s won three titles, including a victory over a record-setting Warriors team. He’s breaking individual record after individual record in both the regular season and playoffs. Really, LeBron could retire right now and find himself in the Hall of Fame in six years and would likely still be in the “GOAT” debate. But, still, his legacy seems to still depend on the outcome of this series, despite Kevin Durant seeking his first championship on the other side.
Here are a few possible reasons as to why we’re talking more about LeBron James than Kevin Durant in regards to legacy.
In other worlds, a four-year age difference isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s a pretty big difference in the basketball world. Consider this: when LeBron was 28, he won his first title. Now at 32 years old, LeBron has won two more championships. Durant is 28 years old now and on a Golden State team that looks nearly unbeatable. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to make it back to the Finals and claim a victory. KD is in his prime, and it’s unlikely that his prime will end soon.
LeBron, however, is on the other side of the hill. Don’t get me wrong—he’s still arguably the greatest player in the NBA. But his best years are likely behind him. Not even Michael Jordan played at the same level of his prime once he hit the twilight years of his career. Granted, James is a freakishly conditioned athlete, but that still doesn’t make him susceptible to time. He likely still has a few MVP-level years left in the tank, but Durant certainly has much more time to prove his greatness.
The mark of a legend is overcoming the odds of being an underdog. LeBron and the Cavs proved everyone wrong when they won Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Oakland. Beating the best regular-season team of all time was a feat that even Jordan never accomplished. That being said, this year’s Golden State team is arguably better. Had everyone been healthy, it would have been completely feasible for the Warriors to go 74-8 with the addition of Durant.
If the Cavs win with James putting up the numbers he’s been putting up so far in this series, there will be no doubt who deserves the MVP award and James will cement his place as one of the top 3 players of all time, perhaps even the best player ever. If Durant and the Warriors lose, it will certainly be an upset. However, it would just be a blemish on Durant’s career that he can easily overcome in the future.
Kevin Durant may be an interesting figure. His career thus far has been somewhat storied. Between his heartfelt MVP acceptance speech and his turbulent departure from OKC, he’s had more than his share of media coverage. But his press conferences and interviews just aren’t as—for lack of a better word—interesting.
Frankly, Kevin Durant seems a little more on the reserved side when he speaks with media. Though not as soft-spoken as, say, Kawhi Leonard, he isn’t known for saying outlandish things or being a dynamic media figure. LeBron, however, has been the center of attention since his high school years. Charismatic and confident, James provides amazing soundbites and has had much more of a storied career. Drafted by his hometown team, then leaving for four years only to return to Cleveland and deliver a championship—that’s a story for Hollywood. And, with such an interesting story, LeBron’s legacy is automatically more fun to talk about. Plus, let’s be honest, Kevin Durant is going to go down in history as one of the best scorers of all time. LeBron will go down as perhaps the greatest all-around player of all time. There’s a difference.
No matter who wins this series, we’ll still talk about it for months afterwards. The question is, however, if Golden State wins, will we finally talk a little more about KD’s legacy?Filed under: Sports, NBA Basketball, Finals, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James, Kevin Durant