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Much of the conversation surrounding the 2012 NBA Finals has centered around this debate over which team has the best "Big Three."
The answer to that question isn't really all that important if you look at it through the prism of trade analysis.
There's an old adage in sports that says when you're evaluating which team got the better end of a trade, especially when multiple players are involved, the team that received the best player is generally considered the winner.
Kevin Durant may be my second-favorite player in the NBA right now (slowly creeping up on the Black Mamba for that No. 1 spot). But by any sort of objective measure, LeBron James is clearly the better player, and that will ultimately make the difference in who wins this series.
Yes, Dwyane Wade will need to play like more than a shell of his former self. Yes, Chris Bosh needs to give the Heat significant and productive minutes. Yes, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Mike Miller will need to hit their fair share of outside shots.
But none of that will matter if James doesn't significantly outplay Durant over the course of this series.
Given each player's importance to his team's offense and the fact that neither is any good to their squads if they are in foul trouble, it's unlikely that James and Durant will spend the majority of the time defending each other throughout the series.
Quite frankly, Durant's rail-thin frame will make it difficult for him to slow James if he tries. But LeBron has quietly become the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and if he can effectively take Durant out of games during key stretches, the Heat have a terrific shot at emerging victorious.
And that is what this series boils down to. When the best player in the world focuses on nothing more than being just that and the second-best player is powerless to stop him, the outcome of the battle is inevitable.
The Thunder's time will come, possibly as soon as 2013. But this season, King James will finally get his crown. Basketball fans should sit back, enjoy the show and prepare for the coronation.
Contact Geoff at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and read more of his takes on sports and pop culture at popflyboys.com