While the summer buzzed about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh going to Miami and the reigning two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers reloading their roster, Kevin Durant signed a five-year extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, legitimizing him as the face of the franchise.
Durant has done everything he could for the Thunder, from winning Rookie of the Year while playing in Seattle, to becoming the youngest scoring champion in NBA history just last year.
Durant led the Thunder to a 50-win season, which was a 27-game improvement from his first season in Oklahoma City.
In the aftermath of "The Decision" made by James, there has been a fallout of sorts from his fan base after he bolted from Cleveland, leaving many wondering if Durant can become the league's "savior."
Despite a league filled with stars like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, James, Wade, Bosh, etc, people seem to think it needs saving. The league is filled with unbelievable athletes—why would it need saving?
Well, while these stars are all in the league, you have to think about something: Jordan, Bird, and Magic all had one thing in common—they played against the best to become the best.
That is something that has been lost in the league since 2008 when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen formed a super trio, however a much older one.
Now that James, Bosh, and Wade have done it, many believe that athletes are using the AAU concept to win games at a young age. NBA athletes are going to start teaming up to attempt to win a championship, avoiding the thing all the greats have done to reach the top: beat each other.
It's like a cheat code used in video games that gives you perfect stats and makes you unbeatable. Durant has basically shown his disapproval towards James' decision via his twitter account and many believe he's just "sucking up" to the media to garner some attention.
This, however, is hard to prove. If Durant had wanted any kind of media attention, he would've made his contract extension a widely known fact rather than stating that he signed on his Twitter and surprising many people.
Some will say Durant is not an elite player because he only shot 35 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three against the Lakers in the playoffs. These stats illustrate the amount of shots he has to take for his team to win.
He is the main option for his club, the best shooter on the team, and the only player who had the green light on any and every shot he chose to attempt.
Durant's running-mates are Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook flourishes in the lane or open floor, and Green is a garbage man with a solid jump shot.
This makes Durant the primary option. He has the complete offensive arsenal; one of the best the league has to offer.
Now, as he has become the face of Team USA, the words are flying that Durant has become an NBA icon, and while he is the face of a franchise and will be the face of the USA when the World Championships begin, Durant has yet to fully become an "icon."
He's 21 years old, and has yet to even scratch the true depths of his potential, and though many will disagree with this, he has all the talent to become a better player than Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
But to this point, it is only potential, and it's what he makes of it that determines if he'll really become a true elite NBA icon.
Oklahoma City has the league's brightest young star and now won't be able to surprise anyone. As long as Durant has that uniform on, they can beat anyone on any given night. After just a taste of the playoffs, one of the league's youngest teams will obviously be after more.
The Thunder have the ability to push for home-court advantage in the West and even make a run at the Lakers—again, should they face them.
Durant, as of right now, is just the face of a franchise and he has a way to go to become the face of the NBA. Before that can even happen, he'll have to take it away from James and Bryant. But he's probably one of the few that actually could.
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