Stop This Madness: The Lebron vs. K.D. Debate
“LeBron James was +7 in 46 minutes and his team lost by five. In a game of incredible stats, nothing touches that.” - Michael Pina
Scrolling through my twitter feed this morning, I stumbled upon this tweet regarding last night’s NBA Finals Game and was blown away. Let me preface the rest of this by saying I have never been a Lebron fan. I wouldn’t call myself a “Lebron Hater”, but I dislike the way he carries himself in interviews at times, and the way he handled the Miami situation. In short, I understand why the dude is hated so strongly by certain people. However, as an NBA fan, I have noticed an increasing number of people searching for someone to take Lebron’s throne as the best basketball player on earth. As of last night, the common name to fill that void is Kevin Durant.
I am in deep disagreement with anyone who truly believes Lebron James is not the best basketball player on earth, and I’m about to explain why. If you are still reading this you’re either a family member or someone with literally nothing better to do. I thank you both dearly.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this whole thing, let me address the crowd who somehow believes the 2nd best player in the NBA isn’t named Kevin Durant. Kawhi, Russ, and Harden are all incredible in their respective ways, but in a culture so strongly influenced by NBA championships, two of those players are already out of the debate. It’s like a prestigious NBA titles club, and until you get a ring, you have to watch from the outside. It has always been that way and always will. Kawhi, while a very talented player, is not on the offensive level of Durant, and as Durant continues to show improved ability on the defensive end, the argument for Kawhi becomes weaker and weaker.
Now to the fun part. The enigma that is Kevin Durant. I could spend the duration of this argument talking about how childish the move to Golden State was, or how Durant couldn’t handle the prospects of being second man in OKC, etc, etc., but I’m not going to get into that. I’m not going to because I think if Lebron was allowed to go to Miami, KD should be able to go to Golden State. I know the circumstances aren’t exactly the same, but at the end of the day they both were chasing their first ring (aka access to the club).
The first part of my argument is that in a vacuum, under equal conditions, there is not a single person in the world who would beat Lebron James 1-on-1. Heck, the argument can be made that he would beat anyone, ever (Yes, Michael Jordan included). Look at any other sport, the way to determine the best individual player is to pit them 1-on-1. Entire sports exist off this concept, one of which I happen to participate in. This is the shorter argument, and I think most people should understand why. Lebron is bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than anyone he would face. On survivor island, Lebron is the best player in the world.
The second part of my argument is a little more heavy. It has to do with this concept of “team” and “team success”. As I just did with Westbrook and Harden, we often take players out of these conversations because they are missing the team success aspect. However, when it comes to Durant versus Lebron, both of these players have had team success, so our lense has to shift a bit. For KD and Lebron, the argument becomes, who actually helps their team play better?
Think about it. Last night, in a game against arguably the most talented (I said talented, not best. We can discuss that later if you wish) team in league history, Lebron STILL was +7 while on the court. I find it funny hearing Draymond Green say, “I could tell Lebron was tired”, as if he’s supposed to play 46 minutes against a Warriors team with four all-stars and “feel good”. Lebron rested for a total of two minutes last night, his team lost, and now people want to say Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA. This is the same Kevin Durant who finished last night with a +0 in the box score. Essentially, the Warriors were no better, or no worse with KD on the floor over the course of the entire game. Yes, he hit some big shots at the end of the game, but can we really say Lebron wouldn’t have been able to do the same if he was only asked to do what KD does for Golden State?
Durant is incredible, he really is. I think in due time, he may very well become the best player in the league. However, I think it’s time we step back and just enjoy the incredible series we have in front of us. Stop trying to fill a void that isn’t there. While it’s likely the Warriors will sweep, or at worst win this thing in five, Lebron is still the best player on earth.
And lastly, if Lebron somehow gets this thing to 7 games AND wins it, a certain Chicago Bulls legend might be in trouble.
With an increasingly weird mix of emotions for Lebron,