A rather entertaining and comical conversation took place on the set of Pardon the Interruption today between hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser and guest Bill Simmons of ESPN.com.
The trio debated whether Kevin Durant could eventually have a better career than Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. It’s a variation of an argument that first gained traction this summer. Longtime NBA scribe Sam Smith wrote in July that he’s heard multiple league execs suggest Durant could one day be a better player than James.
Tuesday’s slight distinction in the debate seems a little more plausible when you think about it. Still, neither Wilbon nor Kornheiser were buying what Simmons, who is extremely high on Durant, was selling. Here’s the transcript.
MW: Let’s talk about two guys still in their 20s, even though one of them has been around for a while. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, two of your favorite subjects. You’ve questioned how the Cavs have built around LeBron and praised the Thunder and the way they’ve built around Durant. Can you see in any scenario, because I can’t Bill, Durant having a greater career than LeBron James?
BS: Well, Durant has two things that LeBron never had. He has a good GM, and he actually has good young teammates that they’re building around. I mean, LeBron, what did he have? Ricky Davis? Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Like, he never really had that second guy and that third guy. As we talked about before we came out, if LeBron goes to the Clippers next year, suddenly he’s got cap space, he’s got a good young team. So I don’t know if the LeBron book as been written yet because it’s all going to depend on where he goes.
TK: Wait, am I on the moon here? Did you just entertain the possibility that Durant would have a better career?
BS: I think he could. LeBron has made one Finals and got swept. He made the Eastern Conference Finals last year and was out in five. Like, he really hasn’t done anything yet other than win an MVP.
TK: But does anybody ever say, when they list the two best basketball players in the NBA, does anybody ever put the name Kevin Durant in there?
BS: But he’s only like 21 years old. The situation that he’s growing into is a better situation. He’s got the cap space. He’s got the young talent.
TK: (To Wilbon) Are you sitting here silently for this?
MW: I’m trying to listen to what he’s saying. If LeBron leaves, and you always have to…
TK: Oh, he’s leaving. He’s going to New York.
MW: We’ll get to that at some other point, and we’ll bring Bill back for that. But Durant is one of those guys I was skeptical about initially. In his second year he looked awfully, awfully good. I don’t put him with LeBron. Yet.
BS: Let me ask you this, how many of Gretzky’s Kings seasons do you remember?
BS: Yeah. So that could be LeBron’s entire career. He just could be playing with the Kings over and over again until he’s 35.