It was a strange way to start the summer. Lebronâ€™s Darth Vader-like turn from golden boy to villain sent tidal waves through the basketball universe like a hurricane to a city. Cleveland was in ruin, its king gone, abandoning the Cavs to face the lions of the Eastern Conference without a leader. As for the rest of the leagueâ€™s fans, we were now missing a would-be icon: The next Jordan, the next great player, the person who would carry the league into the new decade.
I mean, who was everyone going to cheer for now?
Lebronâ€™s decision, attitude and play may have left the mantle of NBAâ€™s favorite player up for grabs this season, but with the help of solid record, the reigning scoring champ Kevin Durant may have taken it.
But as good as KD has played, one has to wonder how good he really is. At the start of the season, analysts, pundits and the ilk automatically declared Durant the MVP favorite. Was this based solely on the flashes of brilliance heâ€™s shown on the court or was there something else affecting peopleâ€™s judgment? Though great, I believe Durantâ€™s rise in popularity this season can be partially attributed to Lebronâ€™s decline in the publicâ€™s eye.
With that in mind, is Durant really this yearâ€™s MVP favorite? Is he the best player in league? Better the than Wade? Better than Kobe? Better than Lebron? How does he stack up against the all-time greats? Is he better than Jordan was at his age? Better than Dr. J? Bird? Magic?
To resolve these questions, I have devised the cleverly named column: Kevin Durant Versus. Each volume, I will pit KD against everyone and everything, dissecting every characteristic related to basketball until we can conclude without a shadow of doubt who is better: Kevin Durant or some other guy. Letâ€™s proceed to volume one, shall we?
Kevin Durant Vsâ€¦ Spider-Man
Hereâ€™s an interesting matchup. We have the Durantula vs. a man with actual spider powers. Donâ€™t know how this oneâ€™s going to play out.
Potential and Growth
They call him the Amazing Spider-Man, because he can spin a web any size. But really, are you amazed by the same handful tricks day after day?
Oh, he can crawl on walls too. Iâ€™ve seen it. Show me something new already.
Unfortunately, Spider-Man is 48 years old, which isnâ€™t old by most standards. In terms of basketball, however, heâ€™s practically ancient and probably wonâ€™t be learning any new tricks in the final chapters of his career.
Kevin Durant on the other hand is 22, and is constantly adding to his repertoire of jumpers, jams and circus shots in general. Some of things I saw KD do in FIBA this summer, I had never seen him do. Some of the things heâ€™s doing now, he never did this summer. His game is full of wrinkles, and as he grows older, his game is only going to get wrinklier.
EDGE: Kevin Durant
Basketball is in every fiber of KDâ€™s muscle memory. From AAU to high school to college to the NBA, Durant has logged countless hours of court time to become the player he is today.
Spider-Man has taken a much different road. In Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1, the hero had a brief stint on his high school basketball team. He played one game, his team winning 114 to 26.
Thatâ€™s a pretty impressive final score, but one great game does not a great player make. Iâ€™m still going to have to give this one to Durant.
EDGE: Kevin Durant
From being the face of the Thunder to heading Team USA, Kevin Durant has shown tremendous character on the court. He has the respect of his teammates. He has the envy of the league. In terms of leadership, heâ€™s a guy you want on your team.
Spider-Man is rarely a team player. His brief stints on the Fantastic Four and Avengers illustrate this. His version of the Fantastic Four was a mess of a team that lacked chemistry. As for the Avengers, he mostly cracked jokes at inappropriate times. And when he wasnâ€™t cracking jokes, he was picking fights with Iron Man, his teammate. This is diva behavior of the highest order. Heâ€™s what we in the media would call a menace.
EDGE: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is highly athletic. At 6-9, heâ€™s a tough matchup for anyone. He, however, doesnâ€™t have any superpowers. Spider-Man does.
Out of all the categories analyzed, Kevin Durant beat Spider-Man 3 to 1. To me itâ€™s clear who the better basketball player is: Spider-Man.
Sorry guys, I canâ€™t really give it to Durant on this one. Can I really vote against a freak who can consistently dunk from the three-point line? The guy has spider strength too. Do you know how much havoc you can wreak in the post with spider strength? A lot. More havoc than Shaq in his prime. Muchos havoc.
I know many Durant fans might try to discredit my argument, cite facts or statistics. But the truth isnâ€™t made of facts, and I have no respect for statistics. Spider-man is better.
If itâ€™s any consolation, I will admit that Kevin Durant is a hundred percent less fictional.
(Editor’s Note- the first reader to send in a drawing, painting or sculpture of Kevin Durant battling Spider Man gets some crazy thing of my choosing from a thrift store, plus a framed copy of any cease and desist letters we get from the NBA or Marvel Entertainment Group.) (c) James Nghiem All rights reserved.