But what I find interesting is that he is being commended for being a one-man playoff contender while his natural rival and closest peer, LeBron James, did the same thing for years. LeBron got his credit in the form of MVP awards, but he was consistently nailed for never winning a championship and failing down the stretch in important games.
Here are LeBron's playoff lines from each of his playoff runs in Cleveland:
I assume that the reason LeBron got picked apart and Durant is being praised is that we came to expect it from LeBron and this year was the first time Durant's ever had to do it alone. It didn't matter than LeBron's best running mates were Antawn Jamison, a well-aged Shaq, and Mo Williams. After five years of coming up short in Cleveland, his critics came to expect more even though it was not justified.
Last night, Durant was out of rhythm and missed shots throughout the game that he normally makes, including a jumper at the end of regulation would have tied it. I do not mean to say that we should be ripping him a new one for his performance last night; we all get that players are human beings and can't always be perfect. What I am saying is that everyone was way too hard on James and we hold these two superstars to much different standards.
There are lots of reasons why LeBron has been criticized. He did quit against Boston in his final series as a
LeBron's biggest flaw was that he was too good and his superhuman abilities are why we hold him to a different standard. The Cavs were so good with him as their only star that they didn't have the same opportunities to add more lottery talent (Luke Jackson was their only lottery pick in the LeBron era) and didn't need to make any huge changes to revamp the roster.
Durant deserves praise for what he did in this year's playoffs, but LeBron deserves even more praise -- albeit retroactively -- for the dominant one-man show he put on in Cleveland.
And I think he deserves praise for realizing what we've all just been reminded of -- that no superstar can win a championship alone. His front office couldn't provide an adequate supporting cast so he found one himself, rather than subjecting himself to another decade of coming up short and being blamed for it. Instead of being taken to task for that decision, I think he should have been commended.