There's this clap back that started when Kevin Durant retaliated to Charles Barkley's "bus driver" comments.
Here's the thing - Kevin Durant is a better player than Charles Barkley in my opinion because, despite his most recent injuries, Durant is a more complete player in terms of individual and team accolades and stats.
In 939 games, Durant posted 27.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists with an MVP, two Finals MVPs, four scoring titles, and 10 All-NBA selections. Meanwhile, Sir Charles, in 1073 games, averaged 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists with an MVP and 11 All-NBA selections.
But here is what Barkley is saying. Durant is a superstar with the potential to break a top ten list if he wins a championship in a team that's basically like his Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is a supergroup with Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook that GM Sam Presti created via the draft. The team reached its peak in 2012 when OKC reached the NBA Finals against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. I guess Presti is to blame for Durant's departure when he traded Harden to the Houston Rockets. With that said, Durant joined a ready-made championship team with Steph Curry already at the helm with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and Andre Igoudala as his main support.
And it's the way Durant left OKC. For a historical discussion, we also need to excavate this worn-out narrative that Durant left OKC after blowing a series lead to the Warriors in 2016. Maybe Presti made a bad move in dealing Harden to the Rockets but perhaps Durant could have found a way to effectively use Westbrook, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, and Serge Ibaka. Or perhaps, if he just persevered, Presti tried to right his wrong by trading for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Now, Barkley never had a ring... but he also played for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns as the top dog. Philly, a team reeling from the losses of Julius Erving and Moses Malone, is two to three players away from ascending to the Eastern Conference throne. When Barkley moved to Phoenix, he also played for a team with a ready-made supporting crew but never really had an anchor that would step up to the challenge.
Barkley tried to win with both teams before he ring-chased to the Houston Rockets.
We can't really put Barkley in the Top 10 because of his numbers. The same can be said with Durant. However, Durant is about to turn 34 and Barkley is about to turn 60. Despite 34 being seen as old by today's standards, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell were at their primes winning titles at that age.
In other words, we can talk about Durant being a Top 10 player if he takes the Brooklyn Nets to championship euphoria.
And he can.
If there's a player that can do it, it's Kevin F'N Durant.
Just think of this - LBJ took a lot of beef when he ditched Cleveland to Miami. James would then get a lot of love when he returned to the Cavaliers and gave the city their first NBA championship.
Kobe Bryant was said to be a punk who couldn't win it unless he has Shaquille O'Neal by his side and he would then silence the haters by getting two titles as the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Michael Jordan was initially seen as a gifted player with swag in his game but turned into a highly-regarded global superstar when he won championship after championship to basically own the 90s NBA era.
And then there's Steph Curry, a player who transformed basketball as it is now but because he never won the Finals MVP award, can't shake the doubters of his top-tier career.
Now, Curry has finally won his first Finals MVP award after averaging 25.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in the regular season and 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the 2022 NBA Finals.
In my opinion, putting Curry in the All-NBA Second Team in favor of Devin Booker... did not age well because of the current conversation we are having at the moment.
Barkley can downplay Kevin Durant's legacy but Durant can still make him eat his words. If we're going to talk about Brooklyn, whether or not Kyrie Irving can do what he did back when he was LBJ's Dwyane Wade in Cleveland, it's not really a bad team. Yes, the team resembles a lot of the ill-fated, star-filled cast of 2013 but at least he is the undisputed star of the squad - something the team didn't have during that run. I know Irving and Ben Simmons are liabilities at the moment but so was Dennis Rodman back in the day and Jordan found a way to make him work.
Again, the best players get the worst insults and in Kevin Durant's case, he could either sour grape on this whole bus driver thing or do a GSW and turn it into "petty revenge" fuel.
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