Even though Kevin Durant and LeBron James didn’t enter the NBA in the same draft or follow the same path to the NBA, they share a few things in common.
Both entered the NBA as teenagers, both have lived up to their hypes, both took little time to become superstars in the league, and both have taken their teams from pretenders to contenders in just a few short years.
While the two of them share these things in common and both are the faces of the NBA’s next generation, this summer's NBA free agency has showed us their vast differences.
One needs to last all the way until the final day of the free agency time-frame and needs an hour long special just to tell the NBA where he is playing; the other just needed to type a simple sentence on Twitter.
"God Is Great, me and my family came a long way."
With those simple words it was official. Durant showed his true colors by signing a five-year $86 million extension yesterday with the team that drafted him and could take him all the way to the top of the mountain: the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Meanwhile, his counterpart James, is soaking up all the attention that he can. Traveling from city to city, meeting with executives and coaches, and finally hosting his own TV special.
This brings me back to something they have in common. Both are using the power of today’s media to announce their decision to the world.
However, their announcements immediately remind us again of how they are very different. It is clear that Durant is content with ruling the basketball court, while James wants to rule the solar system.
Durant is a new school guy, but still carries with him and acts with the ideals of the old school guys who came before him.
I am not saying that James does not respect the players who came before him, nor is it necessarily his fault that his announcement has to come with a one-hour special.
The guy has been put in the spotlight as the next Michael Jordan before he was even in high school. I can never imagine what that kind of pressure would feel like or even how it could affect him as a person.
And James is going to be doing a great thing with his television special. He wants sponsors to get involved and have all the proceeds be donated to the Boys and Girls of America. That is a terrific and honorable thing.
But at the same time, James has to do this in order to, at the very least, condone taking over the airwaves like he is going to do today. If he didn’t use this opportunity to give back, then it would all just be about him.
In a way though, it is all about him, and I think he wants it to be this way. He has waited for all the big names to make their moves and now he is the only guy left.
Even if James does decide to stay in Cleveland, it won’t be about his hometown or the Cavaliers. He is going to be in Greenwich, Connecticut and in a studio with Jim Gray and Michael Wilbon. Come on LeBron, really?
Durant made the decision for himself, but he also made it based on the respect he has for others. The respect he has for what the Thunder front office, his teammates, coaches, and Oklahoma City have given him, and will keep giving him, as he continues his career as a Thunder.
Regardless of what James does decide to, it won’t be as pure as what Durant has already done.