Will The King soon relinquish his crown? KD vs. King James

We all know that LeBron James has been labeled “The King” of basketball; most agree that he is the best player in the NBA at the current moment. But will King James soon lose his throne to Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant? Many could argue that the answer to this question is yes.

The argument over who is actually the best player in the NBA always changes with time. Not long ago, the debate was between the Laker’s Kobe Bryant and LeBron. Kobe was the clear winner with his five championship wins compared to LeBron’s zero, but with James’ acquisition of two rings, he seemed to catch up. Although, many have their complaints (myself included) that James couldn’t get the job done for the Cavs in Cleveland, and required the assistance of Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in Miami to finally claim his first championship victory with the Heat. That aside, King James has risen to the top with four league MVP titles, 2 Finals MVP titles, two Olympic gold medals, and an NBA scoring title. 

It seems KD is growing weary of coming in second, starting from the beginning when he was drafted behind Greg Oden in 2007. He seems especially tired of his placement behind LeBron, after losing to the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals, receiving the second most votes for MVP three times, and just generally being considered the second best player in the NBA. Despite his three scoring titles that outnumber James’ and their comparable Rookie of the Year awards, Durant remains behind James in the talk of the NBA’s best player. However, this season, Durant appears determined to steal the crown from James, once and for all. Prior to their Jan. 28 meeting, Durant had lost 13 of 16 games to James. But with this latest match-up, LeBron’s dominance no longer seemed apparent. With Durant’s 33 points, and LeBron’s 34, the two seem nearly identical in performance, until you mention Durant’s 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals compared to LeBron’s 3, 3, and 0 respectively. All in all, the Thunder came out victorious, 112-95. Even looking at the season as a whole, Durant’s numbers are larger than James’ with averages of 31.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, compared to LeBron’s 26, 6.9, and 6.5. KD shines each and every game this season, most recently with his seventh 40-point game of the season (the next closest player has three) in the 112-100 Thunder win over the Knicks.

However, it’s not just on the court that the two share the limelight. Both make the Forbes highest paid athletes list, with LeBron at 4 and Durant at 17, earning $17.8 million and $16.9 million, respectively. The pair also brings in a strong $66 million combined endorsement earnings. Durant has partnerships with Nike, Sprint, Gatorade, Panini, 2K Sports, BBVA and Degree for Men. LeBron boasts deals with Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Samsung, just to name a few. And again, the two are in competition, with the two best selling shoes in the NBA. LeBron’s shoes bring in $300 million annually, compared to Durant’s $175 million. But again, KD is making advances toward the top spot, while LeBron is somewhat stagnant. Durant’s sneakers are up 400 percent from last year, while LeBron’s sales have leveled out, after only a 50 percent jump in 2012.

KD is clearly making his climb out of the number two position, closing the gap very quickly. All that’s missing is a Finals championship and MVP title to seal the deal, two things that I’m rooting for as the 2013-2014 season progresses.

I’d even go so far as to say that it’s easier to root for KD. When I think of his noteworthy actions, donating to the Oklahoma tornado relief comes to mind, with his personal donation of $1 million, matched by the Thunder organization and his sponsor, Nike. When I think of LeBron, my mind goes to the showy TV segment announcing that he would be leaving Cleveland for Miami. That’s not what I call humble, or necessary for that matter. James’ class act continues, with his condescending comment about his jealousy of how much Durant shoots, seeming to say that his rival can score more simply because he shoots more. I must say that I agree with Durant’s response when he said: “I’m pretty sure, matter of fact, I’m 100 percent sure LeBron can do whatever he wants.” LeBron, if you want to shoot more, please do, but that doesn’t mean it will be any easier to beat KD.

Overall, I’m hoping, along with many NBA fans, for an OKC championship in 2014. From what I can tell, Kevin Durant is ready to take charge of the number one spot in the NBA, on and off the court, and I would be happy to see him do so. All reigns must come to an end and I think Kevin Durant has shown that he’s ready to take over.

LeBron, step down; there’s a new king in town.

KDandtheKing

Sources:

http://www.landofbasketball.com/player_comparison/kobe_bryant_vs_lebron_james.htm

http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=400489548

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/05/25/kevin-durant-gets-nike-to-join-him-in-donating-over-1-million-to-help-with-oklahoma-tornado-relief/

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/01/17/kevin-durant-responds-to-lebron-james-jealous-comment-lebron-can-do-whatever-he-wants/

http://www.welcometoloudcity.com/2014/1/30/5360962/kevin-durant-vs-lebron-james-mvp-rac 

http://www.landofbasketball.com/player_comparison/kevin_durant_vs_lebron_james.htm

http://www.forbes.com/profile/kevin-durant/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/lebron-james/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2014/02/06/lebron-and-durant-are-the-nbas-top-shoe-salesman/

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