Kevin Durant is still a very young player, despite what the public may perceive about his "old school" personality and humble swagger.
Will the emotions from the 2012 NBA Finals spill onto the Olympics court as he and the man who smothered his franchise are forced to play together on Team USA?
Hopefully it won’t, because the compilation of men on this Team USA is the closest to the Dream Team America has been in a long time. If Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were able to co-exist, why can’t Durant and LeBron James?
Sure, the NBA Finals crushed Durant’s psyche just a little bit.
After getting off to an impressive start, James and the Miami Heat reminded the Oklahoma City Thunder exactly why they weren’t as prepared as they appeared against the San Antonio Spurs.
It was a much needed burn of reality, and Durant will only become better from it. Kobe Bryant says, according to USA Today, that he doesn’t know if he could grin and bear it. He never had to play with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett after losing to them on the grandest stage—the NBA Finals.
That’s irrelevant because Kevin isn’t Kobe. Durant is much more of a team player than Bryant will ever take on, and he never wants to be the reason why his team, or any team that he’s participating with for that matter, fails.
There is going to be some bad blood there, and it may be exposed during practices. Isn’t that exactly what happened with the Dream Team?
Practices were intense, because although they were placed on the same team, both players still shared competitive spirit and spite towards each other. Durant and James’ animosity is what makes the Team USA roster so amazing.
It’s what made it so perplexing when the Dream Team first arrived on the scene.
There isn’t just a bunch of young guns happy to be in the fold. The roster is filled with men who have paid their dues and have earned their right to be frequent Team USA representatives.
With reputation and achievement comes confidence and ego. Without the presence of tension, the team would not be proper representation of what the league is and what kind of talent the NBA boasts.
Kevin Durant deserves the right to be a bit uncomfortable and hesitant to step on the court with the man who stood between him and his first NBA championship. His revenge will surely come soon enough.
Nevertheless, the London Summer Olympics is not the place to do it.
Practice will be hectic and full of malice. It will be competitive. Still, it will represent everything the Dream Team did in ’92.
LeBron James had his moment and trust that he will have many more. So will Durant. He’s still a professional and a competitor at heart.
He wants to win, and he knows that LeBron is a part of the formula that will sustain victory—at least until the 2012-13 NBA season.