JACKSON, MS—He stands at least 7 feet tall. He can shoot it from behind the arc better than anyone that size who’s ever played in the NBA. He’s smooth, can handle the ball, and take over games when his shot is falling. He’s also among the most overrated players I’ve seen in nearly 40 years of watching NBA basketball. His name is Kevin Durant and he is one of those high scoring players who will never win a title.
I get that today’s “7 footers” are not like those who roamed NBA courts a generation or more ago. Gone are the Paul Mokeskis, the Jon Koncaks of the game who’ve been replaced by Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns. Superb athletes who can do it all both inside and out. Precocious big men who play the 2 through 5 positions seamlessly on both ends of the court.
While being not much older, Durant is different. A sort of “throwback” who wants desperately to win, but is simply clueless about how to go about it. At 7 feet tall he roams the perimeter waiting for someone to throw the ball out to him so he can take another of the endless barrage of 30 footers he puts up each night.
In the Western conference Finals game 6 against the defending champion Warriors, the Thunder held an-8 point lead with less than 6 minutes remaining. From there, Durant had his own idea about how to ice that game and clinch their trip to the NBA finals. He started bombing away. So as Golden State started chipping away at their lead, there was Durant recklessly hoisting 30-footers. At 7 feet tall, he did not move closer to the basket. He was content to squeeze off shot after shot from long-range and failed to get his teammates involved. The Thunder lost game 6 to the Warriors at home.
Last night Steph Curry and Klay Thompson closed Durant and OKC out, reducing the Thunder to but a cackle. Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals was won by Golden State, and Durant may have played his final game in the Thunder uniform… Without ever learning how to win.
And while we’re on the subject of not knowing how to win, can we spend a few minutes discussing your New York Mets? We’re all thrilled that erstwhile Ace Matt Harvey threw his best game since the World Series, yesterday. It was easily his best start of this year in fact. His “stuff” was there and finally Met fans have reason for optimism about their Dark Knight.
While Harvey likely represents the biggest individual disappointment for the Mets this season, there are storm warnings ahead swirling around the horse-toothed closer known as Jeurys Familia. After blowing 3 games in the Series against the Royals of Kansas City, Missouri, Familia had much to prove this year; namely that he could get outs in high-leverage situations. He failed miserably against the Dodgers last weekend and looked atrocious in blowing both games in which he appeared. The Mets cannot win without the equine pearly whites of Mr. Familia. His performance-more than any other Mets player-will determine whether the Mets see October baseball again this year.
Tomorrow: The Warriors’ Biggest Fan and the angriest of all, Angry Ward.