Kevin Durant Is Now the NBA's New Hero as He Marches to the NBA Finals

Old AccountSenior Writer IJune 7, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 06:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts towards the end of the game against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 6, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As the Oklahoma City Thunder march to their first NBA Finals appearance in their young history, the entire franchise has proven to go wherever Kevin Durant has taken them.

This team took the next step because they matured in a span of four games. Durant's team was ready for the spotlight, and were not afraid to dethrone a Spurs team that had won 20 consecutive games and had appeared to take control in the beginning of the Western Conference finals.

However, this young team showed resilience. Durant led the way, but he was not afraid to share the spotlight with all of his teammates. James Harden lived up to his Sixth Man of the Year Award with clutch shots late in games, and Russell Westbrook performed at a level that the Spurs could not handle.

Durant has been a three-time scoring champion and averaged 29.5 points per game in the series. 

He embraced the role as a closer and showed the desire to take the crucial shots late in games. America has loved Durant since the beginning of his NBA career, but these last six games brought the best out of basketball fans everywhere.

Fans and media of the NBA have waited for a player who not only possesses the skills of a great player, but also the heart and courage to lead his team into battle.

For years, LeBron James was placed on the highest pedigree and was embraced by the world for carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers and the entire city on his shoulders. Though, "The Decision" coupled with the fact that he left for South Beach to team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh has left him as the NBA's villain.

It took me a full year to forgive LeBron over the biggest mistake of his life, but the majority of the nation does not feel that way and will not forgive him anytime soon.

And thus, the NBA universe was given Durant, who only at the age of 22 has already shown commitment to excellence and the opportunity to build a dynasty with one team his entire career.

Durant extended his contract with the Thunder even though the team did not make a finals appearance yet, along with questions surrounding the future of his successful teammates.

Oklahoma City is without question the best home-court advantage in the NBA, which was a factor in Durant's decision to stay with the small market. 

He wasn't ready to move on to a big market where the tabloids would analyze him like the media does with James and Carmelo Anthony.

Instead, he would let his play do the talking, and at age 22, he has already emerged as one of the league's top three players.

The Thunder are excited right now, but the job is not done. They will either face a Celtics team that consists of veteran leadership and championship experience, or the Miami Heat led by LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

David Stern wants a Heat-Thunder championship series. I want a Heat-Thunder championship series, and so does the rest of the country.

Kevin Durant vs LeBron James: David vs. Goliath, Good vs. Evil, Hero vs. Villain. No matter the outcome of the NBA Finals, the love fest for Durant has begun.

Just like everything else, Durant will not be phased. He will accept the next challenge presented to him and will not stop from accomplishing his goal early in his career.

With an NBA ring in sight, there's no reason to think that Durant will once again rise to the occasion and put the Thunder in the best position to win their first championship in franchise history.


Matt Miselis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He has made appearances on ESPN Radio while also having articles appear on and CBS Follow him on twitter: @MattMiselisNFL