Kevin Durant has had a legendary NBA career. He’s an MVP winner, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a four-time scoring champion and, of course, a two-time NBA champion. There is no doubt that he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and remembered as one of the greatest players of his generation. But, like most great players, Durant thinks he’s earned an even greater legacy. The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin asked Durant why he isn’t widely involved in the greatest of all time conversation, and he suggested that there’s only one thing keeping him out of it.
“Because I went to the Warriors,” Durant told Rankin. “Why shouldn’t I be in that? That’s the question you should ask. Why not? What haven’t I done?”
Durant’s decision to join the Warriors in 2016 was among the most controversial free-agent choices ever. The Warriors had already won a championship in 2015, and in 2016 they won an NBA-record 73 regular-season games. When Durant signed with the Warriors, many considered the two championships he won to be an inevitability.
As far as what Durant hasn’t done? To an extent, he’s right. He’s done pretty much everything a greatest of all time candidate should do… but he hasn’t done those things as often as other candidates. Compare Durant to Michael Jordan, for instance. Durant has two titles and Jordan has six. Durant has four scoring titles and Jordan has 10. Durant has one MVP and Jordan has five. When you line those resumes up next to one another, it’s hard to argue that Durant accomplished more in his career than Jordan. Durant’s career is still ongoing, of course, but at 35 years old, it’s hard to imagine him closing those enormous gaps.
None of this takes away from the tremendous career Durant has had, of course. By almost any measure, he is among the best players ever to touch a basketball. He is even capable of things that players like Jordan and LeBron James aren’t. The NBA has never seen his combination of size, shooting and ball-handling. One could even argue that those qualities make Durant the proper choice for the debate surrounding which player you’d want taking the final shot in a big game. Durant’s size makes him harder to defend in that setting.
But he doesn’t have the overall resume that players like Jordan and James do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no shame in being, say, the 14th-best player of all time. Still, no competitor as accomplished as Durant is going to accept anything less than the No. 1 slot. Ultimately, he’s eventually going to retire as one of the greatest basketball players ever. It doesn’t diminish his accomplishments one bit to say that a few guys were a little bit better.