That's the most important aspect of an athlete's career.
As an athlete myself, I can somewhat relate to these big-time athletes in the NBA, NFL, or MLB. All athletes dream of one day being remembered as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) in their respective sports, whether it be in the game of basketball or as simple as being remembered as the best hitter in their local Brooklyn neighborhood.
The world has always been built around competition. Who has the most money? Who has the biggest home? Who will get the next promotion? Who has the best BBQs every year?
All of these questions are asked around the world in some sense and it is the nature of this "dog eat dog" type world.
Now in the future absence of Kobe Bryant, the NBA needs someone to rightfully take over the title of "The Best in the NBA."
LeBron James going to Miami has diminished his chances of doing so. LeBron may make ESPN every night, but as you can start to see, that means nothing in the matters of leaving behind a legacy.
Think of all the great players that have left behind legacies in the past. Starting back from Jerry West, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, going onto Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and now to Kobe Bryant. They have all also won a championship, which may come to Durant in the future—you never know.
As you can see, all of these players have not only been remembered as being the best in their time but for what they did in the time that they played.
West, as you know, is still the logo of the NBA; Russell still holds the most championships as a player; Chamberlain still holds his most points scored in a single game record; Magic and Abdul-Jabbar are remembered for their unstoppable Show Time Lakers performances back in the '80s; and Michael Jordan, well we all know what he continues to provide for the NBA.
In this short list of great players you can see a trend. The trend is that there must be an iconic player in every era of basketball. That time is nearing for the NBA and I can only think of one possible candidate and that is the "Durantula," or Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As time progresses, so does Durant. It seems as though Durant has matured into a man before most superstars do. Durant is arguably the best player in the game right now next to Kobe and LeBron, and no one can argue about his potential and skills at his age.
The most underrated aspect of a player is his leadership ability, and Durant has shown and proven to the world that he can lead a young team anywhere he wants to go.
I'd say that's a great start for Durant—most players aren't born with that leadership mentality, and Durant obviously has the “it” factor.
Durant, the 6'10'', 230 lbs. forward out of Texas has done nothing but amaze NBA fans. Durant has already won an NBA scoring title and he has even won a NBA Horse Champion Trophy.
More importantly, Durant has led the youngest team in the NBA to unexpected territory.
In this year's playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Durant led his team to a point where it could have taken down the "Goliath" of the playoffs.
The Thunder had a tough 4-2 series loss to the Lakers, but everyone knows it was much closer than that. If a couple of plays went the Thunder's way, it could have been a completely different story.
Now where does this leave Kevin Durant?
He agreed to a five-year extension with the Thunder this offseason and everyone is expecting the Thunder to keep improving. Like I said, LeBron's choice to cop out and go to Miami, leaves Durant with a slight opening of the door to take the NBA by his hands.
All great players who have left legacies behind have never left their teams in order to win. That's why they were great. These MJ's and Kobe's could figure out a way to win in any type of situation.
That is why LeBron can never leave a legacy behind, because he has decided to take the "easy" way out.
Durant, on the other hand, chose to stay with his original team and he is preparing to lead his Thunder team to a future NBA Finals appearance.
LeBron may win multiple championships with the Heat in the future, but what is more impressive: LeBron winning with two possible Hall of Famers or Durant winning and leading a team to Oklahoma City's first championship?
I hope you chose Durant.
On a side note, Durant, as Coach Mike Krzyzewski has announced, is going to be the leader of this year's U.S. National Team. After hearing what Coach K. has to say about Durant, Durant responded by humbly saying, "I doubt I'm the next face; I'm just another guy helping to bring a gold back to the U.S. It's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid."
Now that's what I call being humble. Durant has the full background to become the NBA's next iconic player. As always, only time will tell, but it looks to me that the NBA has found its new "face," if you will.