The argument of who is the best player in the NBA currently will always see different players brought up. But over the past decade the two constants in the discussion have been Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant.
Since returning from injury this year, Durant has reminded people of why he belongs in the discussion and that was capped off by an unbelievable performance in the playoffs that led many to proclaim him the best player in the NBA today. But not everyone agrees with that assessment.
NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen was recently interviewed by Tyler R. Tynes of GQ Magazine and discussed why he still views James ahead of Durant:
“It’s not an individual game, you can’t go into basketball and beat nobody with an individual record. And I used this example of what happened to Kevin Durant just the other day: this is the first time we’ve ever really seen Kevin Durant have to be the man and bring the team home. We ain’t never really had to see that because he’s had [Russell] Westbrook, Steph Curry, Klay [Thompson]. He’s been beating people, definitely in Golden State, by committee. With a team. He did that, but that team already knew how to win without KD. But you put KD in Brooklyn, and Kyrie [Irving] gets hurt and James Harden ain’t that guy, now KD not only has to score for them but also make plays for them. And this is no knock to KD, but they asked me, “Has he surpassed LeBron James?” And my answer was: LeBron James knows team basketball better than KD.
One of James’ biggest strengths has always been his ability to lift his teammates and get the best out of whoever is on the court with him. Durant’s efforts in the Nets’ second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks with both Kyrie Irving and James Harden dealing with injuries were astounding, but Pippen believes Durant focused too much on his own scoring as opposed to helping his teammates out.
Pippen would continue on about that point, praising Durant’s scoring ability, but believing James would have found a way to come out on top in the same situation:
“KD can score better than LeBron, probably always have been able to. But has he surpassed LeBron? Naw. He tried to beat the Milwaukee Bucks instead of utilizing his team. You see what I’m saying? LeBron James would’ve figured out how to beat them and he wouldn’t have been exhausted and he may not have taken the last shot. But LeBron ain’t KD, and KD ain’t LeBron. KD is a shooter, a scorer. But he doesn’t have what LeBron has.”
One thing Pippen is definitely right about is that James and Durant are very different players. Both are excellent at what they do, but their skill sets are wildly different.
Whether or not James would have overcome that situation will never be known, but one thing they have in common is the desire to return to championship level after disappointing early playoff exits.
Rams star takes shot at Durant while defending James
Pippen wasn’t the only athlete to compare the two stars following Durant’s loss to the Bucks as Los Angeles Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey made his thoughts known as well.
Following the game, Ramsey noted that LeBron regularly made it through the Eastern Conference while Durant has failed to do so in his first season there.
While it may be a bit unfair to compare the two in this instance as the East is not the same as it was when James was there, the debate over these two legends will continue on.
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