Bill Simmons with about 2,000 words of total Durant love (plus a little for Westbrook): “Coack K finally subs for Durant (who played every minute), followed by Durant having deliriously happy hugs with everyone on the bench. We wanted it to become his team, it became his team, and now we’re here. A fun stat for you: Kevin Durant, last three USA games: 100 points, 35-for-59 shooting (59 percent), 15 3-pointers. Everyone else on Team USA, last three games: 159 points, 57-for-146 shooting (39 percent), 14 3-pointers. And he doesn’t turn 22 until later this month. And I never thought we’d get here this soon. And I will never wager against him again. (I hope you kept mental notes, LeBron.)”
Chris Mannix of SI: “The ceiling was sky high for Durant entering the Worlds and he smashed right through it, earning the tournament MVP award to go along with his gold medal. Far and away the best player in Turkey, Durant (22.8 points, 6.1 rebounds) raised his level of play when the games mattered most: In the U.S.’ last three contests, he scored 33, 38 and 28 points. Over the last few years, U.S. players have gotten a bounce from competing on the world stage; Durant could be the next American star to follow suit. Look out, Western Conference.”
I took a stab at five players that might be ready to make a leap and Russell Westbrook is one of them.
Henry Abbott on KD at the Worlds: “Back when this tournament started, I suggested it was a chance for Kevin Durant to kick of his NBA MVP campaign, and I got some pretty nasty comments. But let’s be honest: He just went out there and played head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world. He took what everyone assumed was an undermanned Team USA. He did and said everything right, played so beautifully it could make you cry, and brought great pride to his nation while leaving no doubt he was the MVP of the tournament. It’s possible all that will matter not at all to MVP voters at the end of the year. And I can understand why some people insist it should have no effect for an NBA award. However, this is out there now, and for anybody who watched, it will forever color how they see Durant, which is not the worst thing that ever happened to basketball.”
KD is coming back to OKC: “Up early headed to Oklahoma City with @RMBWilliams and @jHARD13….can’t wait to see all my brothers and okc thunder family!!”
James Harden and Eric Maynor are playing bingo at an OKC retirement home today. I laughed when I got this press release.
Ziller on the new KD-LeBron thing: “But in today’s NBA, where how players make us feel is more important than how well they perform, the situation as it stands makes all too much sense. KD, the new darling of the free world, has a head-start on LeBron and any other MVP contenders this season.”