Prior to the trade deadline in the 2022-23 NBA season, Kevin Durant was dealt for a bundle of players and picks, going from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns. It was the latest move for a player who has now become something of a journeyman superstar.
Charles Barkley says there is no difference between LeBron going to the Heat and KD going to the Warriors 👀 pic.twitter.com/bwJWslatnD
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 27, 2023
“First of all, there’s no difference,” Barkley said when asked by Stephen A. Smith to explain the difference between Durant’s move in 2016 and James’ in 2010. “But this is the problem — Kevin gets mad at me when I point this out — if you go back and look at LeBron, who I really admire and respect, he said this. I did not say this. He says, ‘I had to win a championship without Dwyane [Wade] to get oldheads’ respect.’ … I hold Kevin Durant to the same criteria. … He’s an all-time great, but when it comes to being mentioned with some of these other guys, he going to have to win a championship where he’s the leader of the team, and he’s the best player.”
The way Barkley sees it, Durant will have to win a championship as the best player and leader of a team if he wants to be on the same level as players like James and Kobe Bryant.
This season would seem to offer Durant an opportunity to do just that despite the fact that he is arguably part of a new superteam in Phoenix.
With the Suns, he’s now teammates with Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Booker, Paul and Ayton helped lead the Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals and were just two wins away from achieving the ultimate goal. With Durant added to the roster, the Suns now appear to be one of the teams to beat in the NBA.
With that in mind, the Suns’ job is not finished, and they are still fighting to secure a spot in the playoffs. They are currently the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, but the conference is so tight that they are still at risk of falling into the play-in tournament if they stumble going forward.
The slim margin of error certainly offers an added layer of pressure for a team that has not spent much time on the court together and will have to learn how to play together on the fly.
In his career, Durant has two championships to his name. Both came with the Warriors, and many of his critics claim that those titles don’t help his legacy all that much because of the incredible amount of talent that was on that roster before Durant even arrived.
As for James, he won two titles with the Heat as well. He’s won two titles since then, one with the Cavaliers in 2016 and one with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.