Tha Sports Junkies 101

How We Came To Take The Best Players Of Our Generation For Granted

NBA Greg Vlosich/ via


LeBron James is arguably the most dominant, talented, awe-inspiring player the NBA has seen since one Michael Jordan, and we shouldn’t forget that. In the new-age of basketball where 7-footers are ball-handlers, and almost everyone can shoot 3s, basketball fans across the country have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The chance to watch LeBron and a cast of other superstars put a show on each and every time they step out on the court, but are we getting too used to it?

Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

In one of the most dominant seasons we’ve seen in decades, Westbrook bent the game to his will each time he touched the court. By the end of the season, however, it seemed like we heard fewer people talking about how amazing his performance was that night, and more talking about how he had just done the same thing last game. Stop taking 30-point triple doubles and carrying an otherwise helpless team to 47 wins during the regular season for granted because it’s not as easy as he makes it seem. Russ is the MVP, and James Harden is a distant second, and that’s all there is to say.

The new NBA leader for most triple-doubles in a season (42) averaged a triple double this season for crying out loud. Some people have even said his achievements this season are even more impressive than those of the Big O in the 1961-1962 because of the changes in the game since then, and they’re not wrong. We need to appreciate his greatness, because we may never see a pure athlete as dominant as Russ ever again.

Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

The 3-point, play-making machine that we know as Steph Curry averaged 30 points per game last season and shot an impressive 45 percent from behind the arc. This season? A measly 25ppg and 41 percent from deep. Those stats were good enough to land him in 6th in Kia’s NBA MVP race predictions after winning the award each of the last two seasons. His shooting dominance took a backseat to the drama that surrounded Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Warriors this offseason. It only takes a few minutes of watching him at his best for us to remember that’s he’s still one of the most exciting and talented players in the league. Every time Steph uncorks a last second shot from halfcourt or further, it looks like it might go in, and if watching him drain 3s from the tunnel before every game doesn’t get you excited, nothing will.

Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors

People like to complain about Kevin Durant. They like to say he’s a ring-chaser and that he abandoned the team that drafted him, just for a bigger spotlight. They say he lost their respect after he “sold out” and joined Golden State after nine seasons, seven all-star selections, four scoring championships and a Most Valuable Player award with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder, and they’re not wrong, but they’re missing the point. Sure, Durant’s game changed when he joined the Warriors, he’s counted on less than he was in OKC, and he has more freedom to make mistakes with such an impressive supporting cast around him.

All of his season averages (with the exception of blocks per game, rebounds per game, and field goal percentage) are down this year compared to last year, but it doesn’t matter. Durant is one of the best pure scorers to ever play in the NBA, with shades of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in his ability to create his own shots and see the whole floor. There’s just no substitute for being able to put the ball in the basket consistently and without hesitation, and whether you like it or not, we’re witnessing greatness every time KD steps out on the court.

Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi is different from everyone else on this list for two reasons: first, he’s quiet. He lets his play speak for itself, and he doesn’t have much to say about anything. He’s a straight-faced assassin who can swat your shot off the backboard at one end and then knock down a buzzer-beating three at the other. The second reason is his defense, which is arguably even better than his offense. Leonard, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is the only player on this list who consistently guards the opposing team’s best player, and he doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.

He’s taken for granted because he doesn’t talk a whole lot and his defensive game often overshadows his offensive prowess, and because we think we know what we’re getting when we watch him. He locks you down on defense and does whatever he has to do to help his team win on the offensive end. He’ll consistently be in the race for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award (and will continue to be), which I might add it is a crime he has yet to win.

LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron has been in the MVP race each of his seasons in the league for a reason. I know what you’re probably thinking, we don’t take LeBron for granted, we know he’s great, we don’t want to read about him on this list, hear me out. While 90 percent of the NBA fan universe outside of Ohio has taken a liking to nicknames for The King such as LeFlop or LeChoke or….other playful names, LeBron has been a symbol of dominance around the league for 14 seasons (12 playoff appearances) with both Cleveland and Miami.

The LeBron we’re watching in the playoffs this year isn’t the same LeBron who averaged 31ppg in the 2005-2006 season and led the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time. He changes and tweaks his game every season, acknowledging the growing limitations to his game as he gets older. Sure he may sit out a few games each season, drawing the inevitable comparisons to MJ who “even played through the flu” and never wanted to come out of a game but come playoff time, look out, because James is on a mission and he will not stop.

All of these players are unique and talented and will likely be in Springfield one day at the National Basketball Hall of Fame. For now, however, they’re here for our viewing pleasure, so sit back, relax, and watch greatness.