Michael Pina of Sports on Earth on the MVP race: “Unless everyone agrees Most Valuable Player should simplify itself by only trying to answer who the league’s best player is, the award will always be up for various interpretations. A few: Who’s the most outstanding player on the best team? Who should the year most be remembered for? Which playoff team would sink the furthest without its best player on the court each night? Who absolutely positively would not be traded for any one other single player in the league? Durant is an incredible basketball player. In a vacuum, James is microscopically better. But what do you do when the best — who in his own right is incredibly valuable to his title-contending team — isn’t, well, playing like the best?”
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com: “It’ll take a little while for Durant and the Thunder to find their rhythm again once Westbrook comes back. His is not a game that speaks softly. But the whole experience these past two seasons has helped all of them realize how much they need each other. Whatever adjustments need to be made, whatever compromises or sacrifices are to come in the short term, will be worth it.”
KD on Westbrook: “He’s a dog, you got to let him off the leash. You can’t put a leash on that guy. We want him to go out there and be himself. We don’t want him to come in and try and play a little too passive because of how we’ve been playing. We want him to come in and be him.”
And KD on LeBron and MVP talk: “”There’s no back-and-forth. I haven’t said anything. Just him talking … That’s not on me to say. I just go out there and play my game and let that talk. I don’t like talking about myself”.
Miami columnist Greg Cote: “Durant angles in on his fourth scoring title and his maiden MVP, but it isn’t enough. None of his personal greatness should be, just like it wasn’t for James. The Heat and Thunder play Feb. 20 in Oklahoma City and it will be couched as Armageddon, a James-Durant summit, but it won’t be that. Those things happen only in June, when championships are in play. Until Durant begins to wins some of those, he gets to be on the same court with LeBron, but not in the same conversation. Until Durant gets his defining rings, he might stand with LeBron at the very top of the NBA, but he won’t be in the same league.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com on KD breaking Wilt’s All-Star scoring mark: “The odds might be against KD, but I actually think he might really want this one. Durant came pretty close to breaking the record with his 36 points in 2012, and last year he went for 30. Between those two games Durant averaged 24.5 field goal attempts, a number he’ll likely have to top if he’s to surpass Chamberlain. That shouldn’t be a problem. Durant’s torrential scoring season — atop the fact that he’s the headlining star of the Western Conference — should give him all the opportunity he needs to put up shots. That Durant’s high-scoring tear was so public and so widely admired only helps matters as well; by making a pronounced run at this season’s MVP award, Durant has only further established himself as a star among stars, as well as the game’s natural foil for LeBron.”