- May 31, 2007
I view Durant as the A-Rod of the NBA. A clear first ballot HOFer who never succeeded at being the face of the franchise for a title team and whose thin skin turned him off from a sizable contingent of fans.His legacy is going to be really complicated because you can't really compare his career arc to players from prior generations, due to the increase in player movement. I think a big part of the reason you talk about Giannis or Kawhi passing him is due to his injury; after he had won his second title with Golden State I think a lot of people believed he was the best player in the world. During the two title seasons with Golden State; I think he was better than Curry due to his defense and overall impact on the game, but it was still Curry's team because Durant joined Golden State and Curry had already won a title with that core, plus Curry has an iconic style of play that will forever be associated with those teams.
Durant will forever be defined by the idea that he took the easy route to win his championships; even more than LeBron did when he went to Miami. LeBron has won enough in other places to kind of dismiss that idea, so that will be what Durant will have to do. Even though Durant was the best player on those GSW teams, and he played brilliantly in the post season to win his two titles; the general public still believes he took the easy way to win two titles. I think the fact that he took an awkward victory lap post-title and fans on social media gave him a ton of shit for it; something that was entirely predictable but I believe took Durant by surprise, really soured him on the media and fans in general, and has led to him finding a kindred soul in Kyrie.
Durant was magnificent in 2017-2018 but, like Jeter with A-Rod, those were always Curry’s teams even when Durant was arguably the better player. Like A-Rod in 2009, Durant finally won his titles and played brilliantly in doing so but nobody really cared because GS really didn’t even need him. And the final blow was his own Achilles injury ruining the GS 3-peat that would have made his GS time more memorable.
To regain some of his lost stature, I think Durant needs to alpha dog the Nets to a title. He’ll always be noted as an all-time great but he’ll probably be underrated on many lists because of these factors. When you strip away the personality and GS stuff and just look at the player itself, he is just an amazing talent, especially the late 20s version that turned into such a deadly two-way force.
Choosing Boston over GS in 2017 probably changes the entire trajectory of his public perception. The Celtics would have won a title and he would have been the face of it.