Rather than becoming subservient to his ego, Durant shows respect for the game, himself and his opponents. On the offensive end of the court, he has a gliding quality that I haven't seen since Tracy McGrady was in his prime. With almost no apparent effort, he can get to wherever he desires on the court … and is always a threat to score.
That said, I don't understand the flood of "Durant is the best player in the game" comments I've seen, or the near unanimous declarations assigning him the next MVP trophy. As much as it pains me to say this about a player that has recently chosen to act as the antithesis of Durant, with selfishness and a clear lack of awareness, I haven't seen enough to unseat LeBron James as the favorite for MVP.
The love for Durant is understandable when you combine his dominant performance in the FIBA World Championships, and his Andre Johnson-like attitude of speaking through his actions. (You know, Andre Johnson of the Texans. Who you NEVER hear from.) It's easy to be a fan of and root for Durant.
DONUT 2: Isn't this still a LeBron/Kobe argument?
I haven't seen enough to declare KD the best player in the league above either LeBron or Kobe Bryant. Durant may be the best scorer in the league, but he's yet to show the all-around game to warrant being named the best in the league. Perhaps this is only due to the lack of Thunder games I'm able to watch, but I've yet to see Durant eliminate a player with true lockdown defense or become a creator for his teammates to the level of LeBron.
My heart may want Durant to be the best in the league, and to be the "force of good" that can topple the evil empire of the Heat, but my mind refuses to go along … for now.
DONUT 3: Technical Fouls
When the league announced the new, and much stricter, policy of enforcing technical fouls for complaining, I was among the extremely skeptical. In an era where most sports have gone out of their way to remove the need to rely on judgment calls (see the NFL's sometimes near comical "letter of the law" enforcement), the NBA seemed to be moving the opposite direction.
NBA referees already have a difficult job. Almost every call they make ventures into the gray of personal judgment, rather than the black and white of hard definition. Essentially, almost every call they make is a mirror to "Pass Interference" calls in the NFL … true consistency is hard to come by.
Traveling varies from player to player and ref to ref. What's a foul one night may or may not draw a whistle the next. Hell, what's called may fluctuate greatly from quarter to quarter … from situation to situation.
You can't say the same calls are being made in the final seconds of a close game that were being called in the middle of the second quarter. It's become expected, even accepted, that Steve Novak and Dwayne Wade will not benefit from the same whistle protection at the rim, or on the perimeter.
"Superstar calls" are a part of the game … for better and for worse.
"Integrity of the game" technical fouls added another to the list of offenses that would be punished with little consistency while holding the possibility of heavy influence. And, there have already been some questionable calls – see Caron Butler drawing a tech for saying "two shots" in a celebratory manner after drawing a foul while attacking the rim.
Yet, for the moment, I am actually enjoying the cause and effect reverberations of the stricter enforcement. There has been a clear drop-off in demonstrative complaining from players, most have quickly adjusted accordingly to avoid the T, and they are often still allowed to express their initial emotional response … to a point. It can make the game a little easier to watch.
DONUT 4: But what of Timmy's T's Now, we'll just have to wait to see if Tim Duncan gets the same T's accessed to Caron Butler … will there be a new generation of fans that never come to know Duncan for his copyrighted pose; hands up in a questioning "V" above wide eyes and a look of disbelief?
DONUT 5: Under the Radar: Many have commented on it, or at least felt it, but this is a strange season for the NBA. Every team not based in South Beach is flying under the radar. We have the two time defending Champion Lakers only being mentioned periodically, almost off-handedly … after every drop of Heat news has been exhausted.
If you're only paying attention to the national media, you know the plan is to give Mario Chalmers more action once he gets healthy, but may not have read or seen anything about how Kobe is dealing with the lingering injury that stole from his preseason minutes. Or, whether or not Matt Barnes is finding a way to contribute? Or, how's Steve Blake doing as the replacement for Jordan Farmar?
Most outside-of-Dallas fans will probably be a little surprised to see Tyson Chandler the first time their team plays the Mavs.
If not for bad-mouthing the Heat and the spotlight of an opening season matchup, there'd be no mention of the Celtics, and few reminders of another Florida team that happens to be pretty good. (Despite Orlando's recent flogging at the hands of the Heat.)
You can find information on any team, but, for the most part, it's wading in the space under the national radar. What a strange new Miami-centric world.
DONUT 6: Speaking of the Heat
During the preseason I had the pleasure of sitting next to a scout for the Miami Heat. While I won't get into our discussions over the course of the game, I will relay the fact that the Heat are still sending out scouts. Maybe it's just me, but I kind of hoped they were falling into the trap of believing everything they've seen/read/heard and already considering this thing (the next five titles) wrapped up. No such luck.DONUT 7: TV Twist
Mark Followill checks in to remind that tonight's Mavs game is a TV schedule change: Bob and Mark will have the broadcast of Nuggets-at-Mavs on TXA21, contrary to what was originally planned.
DONUT 8: Who was that guy?
"Dirk Nowitzki has a seen a lot of basketball. Entering Wednesday, he had played in 923 career NBA games. He had no clue who the guy guarding him was at the start of his 924th game. ‘I actually did not. I had no idea,' Nowitzki said. The 13-year veteran Dallas forward wasn't alone. Mavericks center Tyson Chandler also had zero knowledge of the guy wearing No. 0 and starting at forward for the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. ‘I didn't know who he was before the game and, for a while, when he kept hitting jump shots, I was trying to figure out who he was,' Chandler said."
Which doesn't mean Forbes can't play. He was all around the world last year, Israel and elsewhere, making him possibly reminiscent of when the Mavs brought James Singleton back from overseas to make a decent NBA impact.
DONUT 9: Kidd in Obscurity
Mark Stein notes: "Wednesday's victory in Denver marked the 21st time in Jason Kidd's career that he registered at least a dozen assists while managing no more than one field goal. Which is, obscure as it sounds, an NBA record."
Cool. … though I suppose their might've been a few of those 21 games in which Kidd would've rather made a basket than built toward a weird record.
DONUT 10: Bring Your Jackets!
The Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry and Caron Butler have partnered with Dave & Buster's, Telemundo and World Vision to host Jason Terry and Caron Butler's Coat and Blanket Drive, benefiting Metroplex homeless shelters.
Mavs fans will have the opportunity to contribute from November 4-through-30 at Metroplex Dave & Buster's and Telemundo locations. Anyone who donates a new or gently used coat or blanket will receive a $5 Dave & Buster's Power Card and a buy one, get one free ticket voucher to select Dallas Mavericks home games. Donations can also be dropped off at American Airlines Center tonight when the Mavs host the Denver Nuggets.
Additionally, the Mavs are challenging local middle and high schools to host their own coat and blanket drive throughout the month of November. The school that collects the most articles will receive an appearance by Caron Butler!
Upon completion of the program, Terry will personally deliver the coats and blankets collected to a local homeless shelter.
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DONUT 12: The Amazing UberMan:
How many players can walk away from the game for multiple months to return and shoot 69 percent from the floor over their first three outings, and in his fourth outing score 35 points? At least one: