The numbers tell us that Kevin Durant is one of the most potent offensive weapons in NBA history. They don’t lie, but neither do they sum up all that makes the man Twitter knows as @KDTrey5 such a unique athlete.
Durant’s smoothly-flowing style would earn him multiple comparisons to jazz soloists, if anyone under the age of 45 still listened to jazz. In honor of this obsolete analogy, here are some of his finest moments tonight, named as tracks from a never-to-be-released album.
“Sweet & Salty” – First quarter, 30 seconds left. Durant brings the ball up, fades to his left, drops in a fadeaway that barely disturbs the net. Other end, time expiring. Hornets rookie Squeaky Johnson tries for a buzzer-beating three-point heave, only to see the ball travel the exact wrong direction as Durant spikes it back at him.
“Perk Starts, I Finish” – Picks up the ball after Kendrick Perkins stuffs Chris Kaman’s jump shot, races end-to-end with his strangely soft, yet pounding dribble. Kaman is back, but unable to offer much resistance as Durant deftly maneuvers the off the glass and through the hoop.
“Canceled” – Al-Farouq Aminu catches on the left baseline, fakes Durant off his feet (or so it seems), takes one dribble for an easy pull-up jumper that never leaves his hands, because Durant has either recovered or was only pretending to bite on the fake and stuffs the shot attempt cleanly.
“Little Help” – Faces down Aminu, probes, stutter-steps, drives to the middle. Two Hornets step up to block his path, leaving Nazr Mohammed alone under the basket. Turning slightly away to keep the ball safe, Durant delivers a perfect bounce pass to Mohammed for a wide-open dunk.
Just moments, individual plays, but tonight they meant more than any of the relevant statistics. It’s useful to know that Durant blocked a season-high four shots, that he hit the 20-10 plateau for the third straight night, that hit 11 shots and missed only six while playing 38 minutes in his fifth game over the past six days.
But long after Squeaky Johnson’s forgotten this game’s final score, he’ll remember being welcomed to the NBA by the sight of a ball sailing backwards over his head, sent there by a guy who’d just made an equally spectacular play on the other end.
In a game his team won pretty handily, against a team that won’t make the playoffs, Kevin Durant was the best player on the floor, maybe the best in the league. He was the game’s leading scorer, but his game has become so much more than just the points he records. Tonight, it was more rewarding to stop counting the points, turn off the sound, and watch the record spin.
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.