For the past nine years, LeBron James has been highly regarded as the league's best player. Unlike most alpha males to come before him, LeBron did not win over the public's support. Instead of supporting LeBron, most basketball fans are focused on rooting against him and hoping that he does not succeed. With LeBron absorbing most of the public's attention, people are failing to recognize who the best actually may be.
Kevin Durant is on pace to become the greatest basketball player ever. Plain and simple. Yes, he still has to prove a lot, but if he continues at the rate he's at right now, he can reach the top of the pantheon.
Its safe to say that very few people would disagree agree that Michael Jordan is the greatest player the NBA has seen so far. Therefore, in order for Durant to be considered the best, he would have to surpass Jordan in most areas.
In basketball, we can measure greatness in three ways: how easy a person can score, how much they mean to their team and how easily they can win.
Scoring is a clear symbol of dominance. In order to claim the title, a player must be the league's most prolific scorer for the entire season. At age 23, Durant has completed five NBA seasons, and has already taken three scoring titles. Michael Jordan did not win his first scoring title until he was 24. Jordan received his tenth and final scoring title when he was 35 years old, at the end of the 1998 season. To tie Jordan's scoring title mark, Durant would need seven more titles in the next twelve years. This may seem like a lot, but he is already 3-for-5, making 7-for-12 not far fetched at all.
A great player is not only measured in how many points he scores a game, but how well he gives his team a chance to win. The MVP award highlights which player has been most valuable to their respective team throughout the regular season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the most amount of MVP awards with six, while Jordan remains second with five. In order to be talked about as the greatest ever, Durant win need to lock up at least five.
LeBron is approaching his peak and will likely be done contending for MVP awards in about four to five years. By this time Durant will be either 27 or 28, when he will be at his prime. This means Durant will have a solid three to five years where he is undoubtedly the best player in the league.
Aside from being a dominant scorer, and a valuable team player, the last but probably most important thing to build a legacy is how well a player can actually win. Bill Russell has eleven rings, and no other player will ever reach that mark. As the league expanded from eight teams to thirty, it became harder and harder to win a championship. Jordan won six with the Bulls, Bird won three with the Celtics, Magic won five with the Lakers.
If you think I'm going to mention Kobe its not going to happen because he wasn't even the best player on his team for three of his five rings. To completely distinguish himself, Durant needs to win seven championships. He came very close this past year to getting his first ring, but expect the Thunder to be serious contenders again next year.
In order to be the best ever, Durant would need at least ten scoring titles, five MVP awards, and seven championships. None of those tasks are easy, but as of now, Durant is on pace to set the bar high.