If you’re ranking honors for professional athletes, things like the Hall of Fame, MVP trophies and championships are obviously at the top of the list. But right there is Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” award.
And one of SI’s top writers, Lee Jenkins, says Kevin Durant should be the 2010 recipient.
Durant has turned the Thunder into America’s team, an organic alternative for the masses weary of the Heat. Before every game Durant gives a high-five to the same young fan in the lower bowl at the Ford Center. (“My friend Tyler,” he said.) He shouts the same word at the end of every huddle. (“Family,” he said. “Always family.”) He begs anybody who has not visited the NBA’s loudest arena to come on over. (“You really have to experience a Thunder game,” he said.) When it is time to cut loose and skip town, as he did for his 22nd birthday party in Washington, D.C., he and his teammates do not fly charter. “Southwest,” Durant said. “They gave me an exit row.”
He refuses to judge his fellow superstars or their hedge-fund sensibilities. In fact, he supports them, and he should. They have made him appear quaint by comparison, like the best player at the biggest Y, who loves his team and his gym and wants to know when the next game tips. After the summer of self-promotion, he is the much-needed reminder that ballplayers can still be ballplayers. He is not Businessman of the Year, the title for which so many seemed to be vying, but he is Sportsman of the Year.