A slow news day and very little going on in the world of Basketball got me to thinking about Kevin Durant, the Sonics, the second pick and Seattle sports in general. Growing up in Seattle, I remember the debate from the 1990 NBA draft about who the Sonics would take. New Jersey had the first pick that year and most fans thought they would take Derrick Coleman. The Nets however didnâ€™t really tip their hand much. They had a young Mookie Blaylock at PG, so most conventional wisdom said they would go for the Power forward. That left Seattle with the tough choice made for them. True, we had Mac 10 at Point Guard, but Seattle just couldnâ€™t pass up on one of the â€œcanâ€™t missâ€ type of PGâ€™s that only come along every so often. I do remember hearing that Seattle was interested in Dennis Scott, who eventually went # 4 to Orlando, but I never really believed that because we had Dale Ellis and Derrick Mckey at the time that were in their prime. No, our Point Guard group of Mac10, Dana Barros, Sedale Threatt, and Avery Johnson needed the upgrade the most.
As we all know, Seattle did the right thing and took the Glove. His pedigree was impressive: an All-American, All Pac-10 three times, SIâ€™s player of the year etc. He was a guy who was a tough defender, could score, distribute and was a winner (at the time of his graduation, he held the school record for points, field goals, three-point field goals, assists, and steals, and went to the NCAA tourney 3 times). He went on to play 12 seasons for the Sonics and was an All-NBA selection for 8 consecutive years, All-NBA defensive team for 9 seasons, and a 9 time NBA all star. The â€œcanâ€™t missâ€ label was as good as gold. This was â€œthe Good.â€
A few years later in 1993, the Seahawks also had the second pick in the draft. They needed a quarterback in the worst way. Prior to the draft, their QB stable was comprised of Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan McGuire, yuk! The team stank at 2-14 and was 28 of 28 teams in points scored. I also remember all of the talk about that draft during my commute, listening to KJR. There were only two quarterbacks of note in that draft, Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer. Again, our choice would be made for us because New England had the #1 pick. As I recall, the Patriots didnâ€™t come out and make their selection known beforehand, and left all of Seattle to guess. Both quarterbacks were considered â€œcanâ€™t miss.â€ The Sporting News from that year was calling them the potential â€œair apparentsâ€ to Dan Marino and John Elway. Most of us know that the Pats took Bledsoe and we got Mirer. Mirer, like Payton, also had a very nice pedigree: He had a 29-7-1 record at Notre Dame, and led them to the Orange, Cotton, and Sugar Bowls, winning the last two. He broke all sorts of team records, and according to Wikipedia, was being called â€œthe next Joe Montana.â€ I remember hearing the comparison. I remember thinking the next â€œSteve Youngâ€ because Mirer could scramble and throw on the run.
Unfortunately for Seattle fans, Rick didnâ€™t live up to expectations. His first season was probably his best, which wasnâ€™t saying much. I actually got to see the game that season, where he was matched up against Drew Bledsoe when New England came to the Kingdome from one of the skybox suites (compliments of Microsoft, via a good friend). Mirer lasted a total of 4 seasons in Seattle, and was at best, a journeyman backup QB for the rest of his career. In fact, when I did a Google search to look at Mirerâ€™s statistics, I found this article, which statistically rates Mirer as the worst QB of all time. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/wordpress/?p=138
By comparison with Seattleâ€™s other recent (at that time) #2 pick, this was â€œthe Badâ€.
As we all know, the Sonics just had a bit of luck and pulled out the statistical unlikelihood of garnering the 2nd pick in the NBA draft while only having the 5th worst record. In addition, you would have to be living under a rock to not know that we just got Seattleâ€™s next canâ€™t miss guy. Portland made the choice easy by taking Oden and nobody could screw up the next selection.
I donâ€™t think Kevin Durant is going to be the next equivalent of Rick Mirer, but will he be the next equivalent of Gary Payton? 9 time All-Star? NBA defensive player of the year? All-NBA team over and over? Itâ€™s hard to say, but I think heâ€™s going to be good, very good. I watched a few of the summer league games and one Texas game. Iâ€™ve seen all of the You-tube videos. He has this silky smooth jumper with a release that looks likeâ€¦well, Ray Allenâ€™s. He can play around the basket, he rebounded well at the collegiate level (but almost not at all in the Summer League), he was pretty fair in the passing lanes. Thereâ€™s no doubt he is going to be special. The question is, how special. Is he going to be Michael Jordan special, Dirk Nowitzki special, Sean Elliot kinda special orâ€¦.?