After witnessing Kevin Durant lead the Golden State Warriors to a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals with a 33-point, 13-rebound, six-assist, five-block and three-steal performance in Game 2, Paul Pierce was legitimately amazed. Pierce’s amazement with the Warriors All-Star caused him to tell the rest of the crew on ESPN’s NBA Countdown, that Durant was the best player in the league.
“Six assists tonight. 10-plus rebounds. [Kevin Durant] may be the best player in the world today,” Pierce said. “Today. I mean, we’re on the final stage. LeBron is giving you good numbers. What can’t [Durant] do? What can’t he do on the court?”
Pierce’s statement raised some eyebrows among his colleagues and they questioned what he was drinking on set. Always full of wit, Pierce responded that he was drinking “Truth juice,” a reference to his glorious nickname.
But while Pierce’s “Truth juice” may be a bit strong, Durant’s performance throughout the Finals in essence validated the 19-year NBA veteran stance. Durant’s domination helped the Warriors win their second title in three years and he took home Finals MVP honors in the process.
Unsurprisingly after Durant’s performance in the Finals, Pierce hasn’t shifted his stance.
“When you look at Kevin Durant, he’s bringing something to the game we’ve never seen,” Pierce told DIME. “It’s was the same with LeBron. You know before LeBron came along, we never seen a guy that was 6-foot-8, with this type of speed, athleticism, ball handling and just everything else you can say about his game. We’ve never seen that combination with LeBron. Now we are seeing the same thing with Kevin Durant. We’ve never seen this combination in the history of our league – a seven footer, who runs a pick and roll at the top, who shoots the ball the way he does. Plus he’s young and he’s on a team that can win multiple championships. So if you’re the guy that’s the best player on the best team and you’re winning championships, I think you are the best player. I mean it’s not far off. “
Pierce’s take on Durant’s greatness can be viewed as a direct result of his rivalry with James, a player that is universally viewed as the best player in the game. And it seems only natural to think that since Pierce’s Boston Celtics used to have some fierce battles with James and the Cavs, he would hold it against the three-time NBA champion. But Pierce denies this and believes that Durant has just simply surpassed James.
“Yeah, people are going to look at it like ‘Oh I don’t like LeBron because of our battles,’” Pierce told DIME. “But it’s not like that. I love LeBron. I think he’s one of the top five players of all-time. I’m just saying right now, Durant is the best.”
Pierce also believes that since Durant is on the Warriors, his era of dominance on the league is just about to begin. Durant was a great before but now that he’s on the Warriors and could potentially win multiple championships, Pierce believes his career can only reach another level.
He’s going to be winning championships for the next two, three, possibly four, five years,” Pierce told DIME. “You got to expect him to get two to three more championships with how the Warriors’ roster is constructed, especially if nobody does anything to close the gap. If Cleveland is the second best team in the league and they lost 4-1, then what does that say about everybody else?”
And now you got the transcendent player in Durant that can be in the Finals every year, who can possibly win another regular season MVP and Finals MVP. That’s just my take on what’s happening moving forward in the league. I think it’s Durant’s time right now.”