It is rare that two players ranked at the top of their high school recruiting classes have been able to fulfill their promise and potential by becoming stars in the NBA. As early as middle school Lebron James and Kevin Durant had been projected through summer AAU and shoe sponsors as the future of the NBA destined to shake the hand of David Stern and be lottery selections in the NBA Draft.
Despite Lebron James and Kevin Durant’s superior NBA talent, their journey to the NBA Finals has been remarkably different. After graduating from high school Lebron bypassed college and went straight to the NBA signing a $100 million deal with Nike immediately becoming the face of his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Pundits and fans bared witness to Lebron James’ bout of immaturity and the endless demands of his entourage who wanted luxury suites and seats on the franchise’s private jet.
The self anointed ‘King’ James quickly outgrew his hometown of Akron, Ohio and in the now infamous ‘Decision Special with Jim Gray’ where he decided to take his talent and his ever-growing ego to South Beach. Accompanied by every increasing scrutiny Lebron has improved each year refining his post game and becoming one of the best on ball defenders in the entire league.
Unlike his predecessor Kevin Durant, a phenom no less decided to attend college and despite his nightly dominant performances for the Texas Longhorns his humble demeanor and clutch performances made him an instant fan favorite. Devoid of an entourage the ‘Humble One’ surrounded himself with his family with his mother always sitting court-side.
Possessing the same game and charm of fellow Baltimore/DC natives Michael Beasley and Carmelo Anthony his smile and demeanor enticed the then Seattle Supersonics to draft him second in the 2007 NBA Draft to become the face of their franchise. Despite the franchise moving to OKC and experiencing two consecutive losing seasons, Kevin Durant along with his fellow young stars Russell Westbrook and Jame Harden served as a reminder to their fans of greater days ahead.
Despite both of these phenoms taking different routes to greatness NBA fans will be treated to championship series to remember.How each player responds to the pressure will impact their legacy and determine how each will be remembered once their careers have come to an end. The potential for future duels for NBA Championships like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson appears likely due to the youthful talent of both of their franchises and aging stars and gaping holes on other teams.
Throughout the playoffs the officiating has been heavily scrutinized by pundits and even by NBA Commissioner, David Stern. Although there will a number of missed calls and failed flop attempts by Mario Chalmers and James Harden, I am hopeful that at the end of the day the NBA’s two biggest stars will determine who wins their first NBA Championship, and not the MEN IN BLACK….AND WHITE. Stay tuned.. I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz).