What the title of this post is what NBA superstar Kevin Durant said in a recent interview with the Washington Post when he talked about where he is in his career. Of course we all know Lebron James is the best player in the world right now and is dominating the NBA, there is no doubt about that. But Kevin Durant, 23, who is younger than me (24) feels his time is now, not a few years from now and he has every right to feel that way. He is a 3-time scoring champ and led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals against the now NBA Champs Miami Heat. The Finals proved that Lebron is not ready to pass the torch on the the young fella, but what we did learn is that KD is probably that guy next in line.
We’ll see how soon he can take that next step from being often called the 2nd best player to being the top guy in the NBA.
Say what you want about Paul Pierce, some people hate him and some love him. I am one of those that love him as a player, my top 5 favorite in the NBA the last several years. He has been in the NBA since the ’98-’99 season and remains relevant to the league among the top players in the game. He was easily one of the best scorers in the NBA with 5 seasons averaging 25 points or more.
The fact that he had to share the scoring load with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is the reason why his scoring has dipped the last 5 years but he remains a constant All-Star year in and year out with 10 All-Star appearances on his resume. Though he has never been a starter in an All-Star game he is reguarly voted in by coaches which says a lot about his game. At age 34, it is only expected that he slows down a bit and cannot put up the big scoring numbers as often as he once did, but like they say on Inside the NBA, “You can’t beat father time”. His numbers remain solid though. Last season he averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and had one of his best passing seasons averaging 4.5 assists.
He always seems to fly under the radar because he was never as flashy as his peers like his draft mate (my favorite player), Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady earlier in his career and even Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Dwyane Wade when those guys came into the league but has always been able to play at the top of his game against those guys. He outplayed Kobe Bryant in my opinion in the 2008 Finals to win his first Championship and Finals MVP and even went as far to say the he himself was the best player in the world after winning it all. Whether you like him or not, you have to give the guy credit for still being able to play at a high level. It’s clearly true that he is, well “The Truth”. Here is a Paul Pierce mix below
If you have been a fan of the game for at least a decade then you can remember when the Sacramento Kings were one of the elite teams not only in the West but in the entire league. The Kings were an elite team from 2001-2004. In the 2000-2001 season the went 55-27 and finished 3rd place in the West but got swept in the Western Conference Semis to the Los Angeles Lakers who went on to win the NBA Championship. That offseason the Kings made a trade that took them to another level by trading flashy Point Guard Jason Williams for a more solid Point Guard in Mike Bibby from the Grizzlies.
The 2001-2002 season the Kings were considered Championship contenders, finishing with a 61-21 record which was best in the entire NBA and had homecourt advantage through the entire Playoffs. They were nearly impossible to beat at home, going 36-5. This was going to be it, my favorite team had the best record in the NBA, homecourt advantage and they were impossible to stop on the offensive end, averaging 104.6 points a game. They were by far the deepest team in the league with a starting 5 of Mike Bibby, defensive specialist Doug Christie, 3-point shooting great Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. They had a solid bench with names like Bobby Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Scott Pollard, and Hedo Turkoglu to name a few. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals against uh, none other than the defending Champs Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers won 4-3 but if you were a Kings fan such as myself, we know who should have won that series due to a couple of controversial plays in games 4&6 (which was allegedly fixed,I agree it was) and then missed free throws in Game 7. Sacramento would have went on to beat the New Jersey Nets probably as easy as the Lakers did in 4 games.
The Kings came back with a vengance in the 02-03 season, winning 59 games and placing 2nd in the West. The Lakers only won 50 games and were not up to Championship form. Sacramento wanted to prove they were the best team in the league. I knew that there was no way they could lose this year after the heartache that was endured the last season against the Lakers. They went on to play the 3rd seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2nd round and lost Chris Webber in game 2 with a knee injury that kept him out the rest of the series and ended up losing again in 7 games. This time it wasn’t the Lakers, it was pure misfortoune by losing Chris Webber after such a great season that came with high expectations.
In the 03-04 season the Kings aquired Brad Miller who brought toughness to the team. This season the Kings beat the Lakers in 3 out of 4 regular season meetings and finished 55-27 which was 4th out West. Many felt this was their last window of opportunity, I even felt the same. They went on to face Dallas again but this time in the 1st round and beat them in 5 games, the revenge was nice. Next up was the #1 seeded Minnesota Timberwolves led by the MVP Kevin Garnett and again we (Kings, I say we because I felt I was apart of the team) lost again in game 7, for the 3rd straight season.
Being a Kings fan was very fun. I didn’t like them because of one specific player, but I was a die hard fan because I loved the whole team and the way they played and ever since that team broke up it has been hard for me to find a team that I love that much because of every single player on the team and the way they play. I even had a personalized Kings jersey. Just thinking about the devestating losses, game 7’s and the fact that you knew the Kings had a chance to win it all still hurts but I still to this day say I enjoyed the NBA the most during the Kings time being one of the NBA’s best and by far most exciting team. They may have not won it all but in my heart they were NBA Champs.
Now with the Dwight Howard saga over with, we can now focus on a different question other than, “Where will Dwight end up?”. As the title of this post says, can he live up to Shaq’s Legacy now that he is on the Los Angeles Lakers?
It looks like history has repeated itself. In 1996 it was Shaq who left Orlando to L.A. and now here we are 16 years later, another great Center in Orlando takes off to the Lakers. That move comes with a little pressure for Dwight and that is whether or not he can live up to the legacy Shaq built during his 8 seasons with the Lakers. Well, lets see what Shaq did and we will just have to see if Dwight can measure up to those standards. Shaq’s tenure with the Lakers: 3 NBA Championships, 3 Finals MVP Awards, Scoring Title, and a Regular Season MVP Award. His regular season stats were 27 points and nearly 12 rebounds and for the postseason he averaged nearly 28 points and over 13 rebounds a game.
Pretty simple right? Ok, not really. Dwight comes into Los Angeles with career averages of 18.3 points and 13 rebounds per game and is a 6-time All-Star in 8 seasons with the Magic. Like Shaq he was the franchise player for Orlando and if he decides to sign an extension with the Lakers next summer he will likely be the franchise player for the Lakers as Kobe Bryant is nearing the end of his career. They will build around Dwight and he will be the guy who will have to lead them to win multiple championships, but is he capable of doing so? Yes he is. Shaq himself said he needs to average 28 and 15 a game for them to win multiple titles, he may not have to do that while Kobe and Nash are playing but when Dwight is the main guy after they leave, he will have to raise his level of play because 18 and 13 will not get it done. The potential is there but it is up to him if he will take that next step and put up Shaq type numbers and be as dominant.
If Dwight doesn’t focus on being able to feel the giant shoes of Shaquille O’neal and just focuses on being the best he can be then he will be just fine. He needs to take advantage of his new journey and form a new legacy with his new team as he did with Orlando. (if he decides to stay with the Lakers)
Looking for guest writers for the ProBallers Lounge Blog. If you are a fan of the game of basketball and would like to publish NBA stories on this site email me a sample story to Proballerslng.firstname.lastname@example.org and if your story is creative and original I will publish your story with your name on it here and circulate it on the web to get views. This one of the many steps to expanding the ProBallers Lounge blog and name. I’m not asking for a new story everyday buy whenever is convenient for you.