The greatest basketball player alive is on vacation … but there is no reason for Texas fans to turn away from the NBA playoffs.
Fans of LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal or the winner of this year’s Most Valuable Player award, Nikola Jokić, might argue, but their protest is all bark and no bite. Kevin Durant is the best player on the planet … and when he plays the way he played against the Milwaukee Bucks, there is little room for debate.
Nobody in the NBA office will ever admit it, of course, but the league is disappointed that the Nets lost to Milwaukee. Commissioner Adam Silver and his minions will trumpet the fact that the series between two of the league’s best teams was everything fans should want, and that the league is thrilled that it went to a seventh game — a slugfest that needed overtime to resolve.
Disappointed fans will bemoan the tip of Durant’s shoe turning a potential game-winning three-pointer with a second left in the fourth quarter into a game-tying deuce that sent the game into overtime. Others will suggest that Durant simply was asked to do too much to carry his team and had nothing left when his last three-point attempt — his 36th shot of the evening — floated harmlessly out of bounds without touching the rim; a pair of Brook Lopez free throws with less than a second left accounted for the final margin in the Bucks’ 115-111 victory.
The NBA didn’t want the Bucks in the Eastern Conference final. Publicly, the league will tout the emergence of Antetokounmpo as a spectacular player, which he is. But with Nets’ loss, a significant portion of the country’s largest television market, and the best pure scorer in the game — maybe the best of all time — is in recovery mode, rather than lighting up TV screens across the country and around the world.
Make no mistake: Antetokounmpo, twice the league’s MVP, is hardly a consolation prize. But at least since James and the Lakers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs, Durant is the face of the league. The game’s best player in the country’s biggest city is blueprint for a wave of publicity and visibility every league wants.
Durant was nothing short of superhuman against Milwaukee [horns3]