(Photo cred - the Oklahoman)
Here we are, game seven of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. A few days ago, the Thunder went up 3-1 on the defending world champion Golden State Warriors with the Thunder clicking on all cylinders. What happened? The Warriors showed once again why their the champs, winning games five and six while facing elimination in both to force a deciding game seven. The Warriors already understand what it takes to get it done, however for the Oklahoma City Thunder and more importantly their leader Kevin Durant, there are still some lesson's to be learned. If you're looking for a KD bashing article, you've come to the wrong place. This is an article on a player I have tremendous amount of respect for, and one who has been an upstanding guy on and off the court along with being a inspiration for generations, young and old, throughout the DMV. Kevin Durant is a great player, already mentioned with the best to ever play the game of basketball, although, to be mentioned in the elite group with Jordan, Kareem, Russell, Wilt, Magic, Bird etc you have to win championships, there is no getting around that. Is it very,very difficult to obtain? Excuse my french, hell yes!!! That's the separation, always have been and always will be. That's the ONLY challenge left for Kevin Durant. He's accomplished everything individually a player in the NBA can accomplish, scoring titles, MVP's, all star games, All NBA Teams. A championship is all that's left. Durant is averaging 28.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.4 assist this postseason. The good. Unfortunately, Durant is also averaging 3.7 turnovers, and shooting 42.5% from the field as well as 27% from 3-pt range, all less than his regular season averages (50% FG, 38% 3-pt), The bad. You can look at the host of defenders that Durant has had to battle with all postseason (Kawhi Leonard, Wesley Matthews, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson)as a reason for the unusual non efficient play of Durant or you can equally look at the number of tough shots and passes Durant has forced at times, especially recently late in games. That has always been the knock on not just KD but the Thunder as well, when its late in games and the pressure is on to make a play, will you stay poised and execute or will you revert back to the one on one way? And this is why I say this is the defining moment for Durant. To me, with no disrespect to Russell Westbrook who's an absolute beast, Durant is the the guy for OKC. He's a rare talent, a player with a centers size, forward's athleticism and guard skill set, an unbelievable combination. Simply put if the Thunder are to take the next step and knock out the champs AND then get revenge against Lebron James and a hungry Cavs team, it will come down to Durant knowing when to strike himself and when to let his teammates strike. This is nothing new, great scorers/playmakers all had to figure this out. Michael Jordan had to get beat down three straight years by the Detroit Piston's to understand not only can you not do it by yourself, you don't have to. Let Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson, BJ Armstrong help carry the load, in the long run it will make the team better anyway. Same lesson's applied to Kobe, Shaq, Dwyane Wade in recent years and now the same lesson looms in front of KD. His teammates have consistently proved throughout the playoffs, they can be trusted to help carry the load and win games, which will indeed make it easier for Durant to do what he does best. Tonight, there is a big opportunity for Durant to erase past failures and start a new book on championship success in leading the Thunder. As we all know, in the NBA and hell, life in general, you only get so many opportunities to achieve the goal, you have to take advantage while you can-because there are always hungry individuals coming to seize that opportunity and learned the lesson's by watching you fail. Look no further than "that little light skinned assassin" running point guard for the Golden State Warriors as the two time MVP for proof. Kevin Durant, the time is NOW!!! Seize the opportunity, you may not get another chance.