Kevin Durant has yet to play a game since signing with the Nets last summer. But when he went sneaker shopping in Los Angeles recently, Durant was still given the full-court press on a topic that is always at the forefront of NBA thinkers—who is the greatest player of all time?
Durant was told by a fan in the store Cool Kicks LA, on Melrose Avenue in L.A., that LeBron James is the greatest of all time. He objected.
“That’s crazy,” said Durant, who was wearing a mask during the encounter.
Durant was asked which player he would pick and he went with Michael Jordan. That is not an unreasonable choice—most lifelong basketball fans would agree with Durant. But it is certainly not “crazy” to suggest James is better.
Durant Has Long Favored Jordan Over LeBron James
It is no surprise, though, that Durant would favor Jordan. He has spoken highly of the former Bulls and Wizards star repeatedly.
Back in April, as ESPN was airing its The Last Dance series documenting the final season for Jordan and the Bulls in 1997-98, Durant made an appearance on The Boardroom and told Jay Williams, who played for the Bulls in his one NBA season, that Jordan was the best in the game’s history.
“To see how he led by example, every night was the same,” Durant said. “He dominated. And that’s simply the best leadership quality is to go out there and play the game as hard as you can. Play to win, play at that elite level. He was at that masterful level just with his skills for the game, his IQ for the game, and his athleticism—it all combined at once and made just a God-level player, in my opinion.”
In that interview with Williams, Durant also made clear that he thinks that if Jordan were playing now, he would be the best player in the game, even if the league’s emphasis on 3-point shooting might be a problem for Jordan, who made only 32.7% of his shots from the arc in his career.
“He would fit in as the best player in the league,” Durant said. “That’s what he would be. He would have more possessions to do more things. More space for M.J. to go to work. We’ll never know, but for sure he’s a masterful basketball player, and like we’ve been saying his skill level is unmatched.”
James Has Had Success Against Durant
Personally, Durant has had some struggles against James over the course of his career. In the regular season, according to Basketball-Reference.com, the two have met 21 times and James is 15-6. The two have battled to a standstill in scoring, Durant averaging 28.5 points in the matchup, James averaging 28.0. James has the edge in assists (6.5 for James, 4.0 for Durant) and rebounds (7.3-6.7).
James got the better of Durant in the 2012 NBA Finals, in which James’ Heat defeated Durant’s Thunder in five games. Durant eventually left the Thunder, though, and won two championships with the Warriors in 2017 and 18, both coming at the expense of James, who was then with the Cavaliers.
Durant tore his Achilles tendon during last year’s NBA Finals, and has been recovering for the last 14 months.