The Phoenix Suns have really turned their season around to start 2024, with the 35-year-old Kevin Durant a large part of the reason why. He has undoubtedly been his team's MVP through the first-half of the season, and looks set to the the Suns' closer down the stretch of the season.
When talking about the best players in the league this century, Durant's CV certainly warrants putting him in the conversation. A two-time champion with the Golden State Warriors, he has also been Finals MVP twice, a 13-time All-Star, and has twice won the All-Star game MVP. On four occasions, he has led the league in scoring too.
Durant was recently asked about if he belongs not in a best player this century argument, but rather, the G.O.A.T. discussion, and he certainly had an opinion.
Speaking to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic in the midst of the six game win streak the Suns are currently riding, Durant had this to say about where he stands in the Greatest Of All Time discussion;
"Because I went to the Warriors. Why shouldn’t I be in that? That’s the question you should ask. Why not? What haven’t I done?"- Kevin Durant
Durant makes a good point here, simply by flipping the conversation on its head. When you really think about it, what hasn't this guy done? He has won at the highest level - and for those who think the amount of rings a player has counts above all else - does that make Robert Horry a better player than Michael Jordan? Or Magic Johnson definitively a better player than Larry Bird?
As referenced in the same piece, Jordan himself once said to his good friend Ahmad Rashad when asked about who was better between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant -
"Kevin Durant. He’s coming. You talk about these two and you battling who’s the best and Kevin Durant is going to sneak through the backdoor."- Michael Jordan
That might have been a nice way for Jordan to sidestep a tricky question, but he literally could have mentioned any other player in the world at that time. Yet he picked Durant, who has a much stronger case to be considered the greatest pure scorer of all-time. Certainly his former teammate Draymond Green agrees with that, but stopped short of putting Durant in the G.O.A.T. conversation, for now.
The question is though, is Green really the best person to speak on what he thinks of Durant's chances here? There are two reasons for this, one of which he addressed himself when giving his opinion. Many people have discredited Durant's two championships with the Warriors because he joined what was, at that time, a team that had already won a Larry O'Brien trophy.
Green is never going to come out and discount those two titles, and to be fair he is right when he says a championship is a championship, no matter what. But if it is possible to be unbiased about this topic - and really, it isn't - then Green is too close to the subject matter to try and answer this one down the middle. He is also a great friend of James, which doesn't help either.
On the other end of the scale, Durant and Green had an infamous bust up on the bench back in 2018 which was dissected heavily at the time. Durant would go on to leave for the Brooklyn Nets - but not before picking up a season ending achilles tear in the NBA Finals that same season - and the rest is history.
So although he got to see up close and personal just how good Durant was - and in his prime no less - Green's opinions on this one come with too much baggage to be able to used as a leading argument for or against Durant's inclusion.
The best part about Durant's supposed case though, is that his career isn't finished yet. If he can somehow lead the Suns to a first ever championship, that would certainly strengthen his case. Lost on Green, and many others, is the fact Durant is actually an underrated defender, and somebody who can play the center position to help his team win.
He is never going to have the personal accolades of LeBron, and the absolute best case scenario is that he wins two more titles, so he's highly unlikely to surpass James or former teammate Stephen Curry for championships won either. But should he at least be in the conversation given all he has achieved? Sure, he just won't be the last player standing.