It’s 2007 for the University of Texas basketball team. They have what is considered the best freshman in the country. Long, 6’11”, can shoot from anywhere in the gym & has good handles. Well, with some other really great players, like future NBA point guard, DJ Augustine, & a beast of a PF hybrid in Damion James, that lanky All-American, Kevin Durant, managed to only get to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. In that 2nd round game, the #4 seed Texas Longhorns lost pretty badly to #5 ranked USC Trojans.
Read that article & you would swear think it was written today after another pathetic showing by the ‘superstar’ Durant in what could have been the game that sent his team to the NBA Finals. Instead, Durant shot low percentage drifting jumpers, didn’t attack the basket, dribbled like a kid who grew from 5’11 to 6’11 overnight & blew the game. Rereading this article, this part especially stuck with me…
As he often has this season, Durant led everyone with 30 points and added nine rebounds for fourth-seeded Texas (25-10).
But he never came close to dominating this East Regional game. Many times when he got the ball, the offense ground to a halt…
Think about it, that was almost 10 years ago, & we’re still talking about how Durant is a great scorer, but he’s not a winner.
I can see the jaws dropping now, the people turning red in the face to say ‘I’m nuts!’, ‘I don’t know what I’m talking about!’, blah, blah, blah…
Here’s the thing, before we can argue the merits of my bold comments which I think are very much based in facts, & the eye test, we must establish a baseline. First off, people through around the term ‘superstar’ to cavalierly for my liking. Really good shooters are not necessarily ‘superstars’, & in my opinion, Durant is just a really good shooter.
So, let’s start with my definition of a ‘superstar’, because if we don’t agree on these certain qualities, then there is no point in continuing this debate.
1. First off, they must be unstoppable. They must be the unquestioned person you MUST stop if you even hope to have a chance of winning. You don’t even think twice when you think of the face of that team. When it comes to the last possession, you know they’re going to isolate him, & more times than not, he’s gonna beat you.
2. They must have passion. I mean an unquenchable thirst to be the best, crush your very soul & win at any cost! You can’t bump them, forcing them to pull up for a weak jumpshot; you can’t just hack them, because they’ll get an “an’ one” plus go to the line & hit the free throw; you can’t count on a bad shooting night making them irrelevant; you know your best scorer is gonna have their hands full of defense; you spend hours gameplanning for this unstoppable force!
3. They are multifaceted. They’re not only great, the best at their position, at one aspect, but they’re really good in multiple other areas. They are more than proficient in nearly every aspect of the game. Even their ‘weakest’ area is much better than the norm.
4. If you go down 3-1 in a series, you know you’re done.
5. Emotionally, he sets the tone, the example. Even if he’s a selfish, ball hogging prick (ala Kobe), he’s your selfish, ball hogging prick, & you know he’s so determined to win, that he’s gonna lead you to the “W”!
6. If you could start a team today, it’s no question you want this player as your cornerstone.
Now, THAT is my definition of a superstar. Now, the last thing that we must agree upon, is that superstars are not just really good, but GREATNESS that is even a step above elite. There are elite shooters, elite defenders, elite assist guys & ‘gamers’, but a superstar is all of these in one. Also, talent doesn’t equal superstar status. To whom much (talent) is given, much is expected. That means wins. Not just any wins though, but wins when it matters most: the playoffs. Just because these NBA analyst jackasses call someone a superstar, doesn’t mean they are. The NBA’s marketing department, or a players contract value, doesn’t make them a superstar. Superstars are made in the playoffs, when their teams need them most to make it to the next round & to the title.
For all of these reasons, I do NOT think Durant is a superstar. He’s a really good scorer, but he’s not superstar caliber. He has the ability, but lacks the fire, the multidimensional game & leadership. If you watch the games, the player closer to being an unstoppable superstar is Russell Westbrook.
Don’t get me wrong, Durant is great, but when he’s on the floor (I’ll focus on this Golden State series, but I’ve said this for years) he’s consistently settling for jumpshots, when his shooting percentage isn’t that great (42.5%). He’s constantly letting the defender dictate his move, he’s unable to get high percentage shots in 1-on-1 opportunities & doesn’t show fire consistently. Take a look at his 3% shooting percentage, & you’d start to wonder WHO anointed this guy a premier shooter! He’s coming up small in the playoffs, ONCE AGAIN!
Look at the total stats. Durant’s #1 in FG attemptd, but 6th in FG %. He’s behind Klay & Stef of Golden State, LeBron & Kyrie or Cleveland in the top shooting stats & only slightly better than Westbrook in 2PT%, while much worse than Russell in 3PT%. Is THAT a superstar. Like I said, I dont think so, but I have much higher standards, because as I’ve stated before ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’
Many will try to call me a hater. That’s fine. I don’t care. Like I said, the eye test & stats back up my assertion that Durant is really good, but he is NOT a superstar. He’s the sprinkle, or drizzle, but he’s not the thunder.