On Tuesday, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was named Most Valuable Player of the 2013-14 NBA season. With that award comes an accolade that hits closer to home: Durant becomes the first player ever drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics to earn the league's top individual honor.
Durant, of course, was selected number 2 overall by Seattle in the 2007 NBA Draft. Though he only played one season in the city before the team relocated to OKC, he was eagerly embraced by the fans and still holds a special place in the Emerald City. In that first season, he'd already begun to show flashes of the dominating career to come, scoring nearly twice as many points as the teammates closest to him (Earl Watson and Jeff Green) on a 20.3 ppg average.
In his first seven years in the league, his per-game averages of 27.4 points and 6.9 rebounds on 38.2 minutes have continually placed him near the top of the pack, and readily draw comparisons to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. No season was more dominant than this year, which also sees him winning the league's scoring title, the first player to win both honors in the same season since Allen Iverson did so with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000-01.
Ironically, Durant was recently criticized by local media in Oklahoma City as "Mr. Unreliable," a moniker taken from an offhand comment by Durant himself regarding his recent playoff performance, which saw the Thunder struggle against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, only to win in commanding fashion in Game 7. That criticism was quickly walked back.
James finished second in MVP voting, setting a unique mark in NBA history bewteen the two players: Durant and James have finished one-two four times, surpassing the combo of Jordan and Magic Johnson, who achieved the similar feat three times. It goes without saying that those in Seattle recognized Durant's once-in-a-lifetime talent from the start, and that many of the Green & Gold are tremendously proud of his latest accomplishments. What's even more impressive is that he still has many years ahead of him.
Well done, KD.