Superstars in the NBA are all incredibly gifted athletes with the ability to take over games and orchestrate success for a team that is rarely experienced without the influence of such star players. Some even have the capability of completely altering the direction of a franchise by pushing their team to the brink of a championship and resurrecting the organization past the point of mere relevance.
However, no two superstars are ever the same, and often the differences can be seen by what they offer outside of the realm of pure success on the court.
Kevin Durant is an electrifying player with ice flowing through his veins, one who is able to score at will and who often makes even the best defenders appear to be completely at a loss in every attempt to slow him down. Durant averaged 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks while effectively impacting the game at both ends of the floor this season.
He also connected on 51 percent of his shots, 41.6 percent from behind the three-point line and 90.5 percent of his free throws, becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club alongside the likes of Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki.
Although it is widely accepted that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA today, Kevin Durant has shown on the court that he too is capable of outperforming almost every other player in the league.
At the young age of 24, Durant has become the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder and is rapidly pushing his team toward the possibility of capturing its first title since 1979 when the team was still the Seattle SuperSonics. However, it is more than just Durant's incredible talent on the court that makes most franchises pine over the idea of attaining a player of his caliber.
Kevin Durant is an incredible leader who leaves everything on the floor in an attempt to elevate his game and his teammates' to a level capable of bringing a championship home to Oklahoma City. After losing Russell Westbrook in the playoffs this season, Durant exemplified this leadership role by doing everything possible in an attempt to will the Thunder past the Memphis Grizzlies, but he and his team were unable to play well enough to save their postseason.
However, Durant stood as the leader of the team while taking full responsibility, even after a Game 2 loss in which he scored 34 points on 50.6 percent shooting, pulled down 10.6 rebounds and recorded 6.1 assists, by stating in interviews with ESPN that he could have done a lot more for his team.
His loyalty to his team on the court and ability to lead at such a young age is extremely impressive, but his humility puts him in a class of his own.
NBA stars signing their first big deal often find their way into the media during the contract negotiation process or grandly announce their newfound wealth once a deal is reached. However, Durant took a different approach after signing an extension with the team that drafted him. Three years ago, as LeBron James prepared for his TV program The Decision, Durant took to Twitter to announce that he would be remaining with the Oklahoma City Thunder for another five years, in less than the 140-character limit.
In fact, over the last six years the only thing that fans have heard from Durant is that he loves his team, his teammates and the community which he now calls his home.
Over the last week we have all been reminded of just how much Durant loves his community, as he responded generously to the victims of the recent Oklahoma tornado with support in many different ways. According to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), Durant quickly got the funds together to make a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross to support their efforts in aiding those affected by the deadly storm, however it could be used.
Most athletes wouldn't even go this far, but Durant went further by stepping out with the Red Cross to help comfort those who have lost so much. According to Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports, Durant reached out to Nike for further assistance, and the company responded with $1 million in clothing for those who lost everything in the tornado as well as a special edition of the KD V basketball shoe that's profits would go toward the relief funds.
Kevin Durant has shown time and time again that he is not only an elite basketball player but also a humble, generous and inspirational leader on and off the court. He may not currently be the best player in the NBA, but he certainly is a great man deserving of all the praise he has received from fans around the world.
I have no doubt that one day he will lead his team to an NBA championship, but for now it is clear that he has become a role model to many and the fitting image of the perfect face of a franchise.