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Green: Don’t doubt the Durantula (Apr. 19)

Mary Green | Friday, April 19, 2013


To anyone who has followed the NBA this season, especially in the past month, Carmelo Anthony winning the league’s scoring title with an average of 28.7 points per game does not come as a shock.

Though Anthony is a dynamic scorer with a deadly pull-up jumper, he was not the favorite to claim the title when the season began in late October. 

Kevin Durant, the scoring champion for three years straight, was.

But Durant sat out the last game of the season to rest for the playoffs, where his Oklahoma City Thunder will be the top seed in the Western Conference. Even if he had played, the forward would have needed at least 70 points to overcome Anthony’s lead, so the chances were slim that he would have made it a four-peat.

Despite these challenging odds, Durant drew some ire from this move, especially in the online community, while others weighed in on how this would affect his future. After recounting how Durant said he wanted to win 11 titles to top Michael Jordan’s 10, ESPN sports columnist Rick Reilly tweeted, “Kevin Durant probably won’t win this scoring title, so he’ll have 3 in [6] seasons. Can he get to 11? No chance. Over/Under is 7.”

No chance? Sure, the task will be hard since he has already played six years in the NBA, where the average career length is just over six seasons. He’d need to complete at least eight more seasons and win the scoring title in each of those to break the record.

But remember, this is KD we’re talking about.

The same KD who was the first freshman to win the Naismith Award as college basketball’s best player in his lone year at the University of Texas. 

I’ll admit, I was a little annoyed when he received the award in 2007 because, as a biased and overenthusiastic fan of Carmelo Anthony, I thought Melo was gipped when he didn’t win in 2003 as a freshman. But looking back as a more mature fan of the game as a whole (just kidding, I’m still pretty biased towards anything pro-Carmelo), it’s hard to deny that Durant should have won.

He averaged a double-double with 25.8 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game in a year in which the Big 12 was stronger than usual, sending seven teams to the NCAA tournament. As a long and skinny freshman, he was dominant on the hardwood and recorded 30 games in which he scored at least 20 points, leading the Longhorns to a 25-10 record before they fell in the second round of the Big Dance and lost. Durant to the pros.

This is the same KD who was drafted by the sorry Seattle SuperSonics, transitioned with the team in its move to Oklahoma City, and has now turned the Thunder into one of the NBA’s most feared squads.

Remember the big question leading up to the 2007 NBA Draft of who was the better pick, Durant or Greg Oden? In retrospect, Durant’s career has made that into a pretty absurd debate, even though the Portland Trailblazers went with Oden as the top choice overall.

The Sonics lucked out with that decision, grabbing the former Longhorn with the No. 2 pick. The future Rookie of the Year endured a rough first season, with his team finishing with a 20-62 record, the worst in franchise history, amid national talk that the Sonics would inevitably relocate.

But Durant weathered the storm as he became the face of the new Oklahoma City Thunder, the first professional sports team in the Sooner State. The transition would have been difficult for any player, especially for one in only his second year, but Durant rose above it. 

The Thunder earned its first playoff berth the following year, and KD was named to the All-NBA first team en route to winning his first scoring title. 

And then he tops those accomplishments the next year, taking the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Dallas Mavericks. He reinforced his commitment to the new franchise by signing a five-year extension and proclaiming the day a “blessing” in a tweet.

This is the same KD who came so close to denying LeBron James his long-awaited ring in last season’s Finals.

He made the Thunder the team to cheer for that postseason, as his unstoppable playmaking ability, the wardrobe of Russell Westbrook and the overall personality of James Harden combined to form an entertaining trio. James might have earned the ring, but Durant stole the show, averaging 30.6 points in the five-game series while shooting 54.8 percent from the field. 

His message to the sports world with a performance like that? KD has officially arrived.

So what would I say to Rick Reilly in response to his statement that Durant has “no chance” of winning 11 scoring titles?

Never underestimate the powers of the Durantula


Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.