As humans, we have this strange, inherited obsession with comparing new things in life, to things that we already know and are familiar with. We’re always looking for that next person, band or political leader to come along that reminds of us whatever various person, band or political leader we’ve attached ourselves to in the past. In no case has this been more clear than in the witch hunt to crown the next Michael Jordan.
Before Michael’s career was even over, America had already begun it’s crusade to crown an identical successor to His Airness. First there was Allen Iverson, than there was Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and most recently, LeBron James. And though all had moments (prolonged in some cases) of greatness, ultimately, all fell short of achieving MJ’s legacy. How do you emulate a transcendent man? You can’t.
With the bar set that high, failure is the only option. So when you start off comparing these young superstars to Michael Jordan right off the bat, it’s like playing a game of craps with a pair of loaded dice. You’re not going to win.
The latest player to get his name thrown into the ring of fire that is the MJ comparison is Kevin Durant, the 23 year old forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 6’10” “small forward” can cover opponents centers, or bring the ball up the court. There is no stopping him. In just five years in the league, Durant has already won the Rookie of the Year award, led the league in scoring three times, made the first team All-NBA roster three times and has now led his franchise to their first Finals appearance in over fifteen years. Before that, he was the first player to win the Naismith Award, college basketball's highest honor, and was drafted second overall in the 2007 Draft. Jordan went third in ’84.
The Durantula has already solidified himself in the NBA circles as the poster child for everything that is right with the league. He announced his re-signing with the small market Thunder humbly via Twitter. He toured the country, dominating street ball games while the rest of his colleagues played videogames and moped about the lockout. He never criticizes teammates, officials or opponents. He takes, and makes, the last shot, then goes over to hug his mother. He’s the guy fathers want their daughters to date. In 2012, he is basketball.
To compare this young man to anyone is not only unnecessary, but it’s also unfair. The ink from the first chapter of Durant’s basketball story hasn't even dried yet, and when it’s all said and done, you can bet on it being a bestseller.
So would I say he’s the next Jordan? Not in a million years. He’s the first Kevin, and that’s exactly the way it should be.