Bob McAdoo looks at Kevin Durant and sees a superstar from the early 1970s.
McAdoo, now an assistant coach with the Heat, was the original Durant – in size and skill set and star power – during an early career that mirrors Durant's first three seasons.
Both were drafted second overall, were named Rookie of the Year and won three scoring titles at a young age.
“He reminds me exactly of me,” McAdoo said Monday, sitting courtside at Chesapeake Energy Arena on the eve of Game 1 of The Finals. “His game is basically the same, except he's got much deeper range than me. I didn't grow up with the 3-point line. But he's a carbon copy.”
McAdoo and Durant have even talked about the comparisons, per a push from Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks.
“He even came over and introduced himself to me about three years ago and told me that his coach, Maurice Cheeks, told him that he played just like me,” McAdoo said. “So every time I see him now I tease him, I call him ‘Baby McAdoo.'”
McAdoo, out of North Carolina, quickly became one of the NBA's premier players with the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) in his rookie season of 1973. His second year, '73-74, still represents the last time a player averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds a game.
Beginning with his second year in the league, McAdoo was an All-Star selection five straight seasons. And in '74-75, he was the league's Most Valuable Player.
He even played on a similar stage in Buffalo.
“It was fun. I was young and it was a small-market team, just like here in Oklahoma City,” McAdoo said. “The fans were behind us. We had a great group of young guys, like he's got here. It was a fun time in my life.”
Some things, however, were much different. The Braves weren't nearly as talented overall as the Thunder and had to make their way in one of the NBA's toughest divisions.
“I didn't have the supporting cast that he has when I was in Buffalo,” McAdoo said. “And I had the misfortune of being in the same conference with the mighty Boston Celtic and the Washington Bullets of that time.
“It's about the complementary players, too. He's got great players around him, a great supporting cast and that just makes it better for him.”
Injuries hampered McAdoo for several seasons, before he found rejuvenation with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Joining a team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy in 1981, McAdoo served as a valuable sixth man on teams that won two NBA titles, in 1982 and 1985.
“I was lucky I was able to get to a team that had other stars on it,” McAdoo said. “I see people criticizing LeBron for what he did, but you can't win in this league if you don't have other stars, other great players on your team.
“I was fortunate to do that when I got on the team with Kareem, Magic, Worthy, players like that. We were able to get some championships in my time in L.A. And that was very satisfying, it made my career complete.
“I won three scoring championships. MVP. I needed a championship, in my mind, to validate my career.”
Back to modern day, McAdoo said he enjoys watching Durant and holds him in the highest regard.
“He's just unbelievable,” McAdoo said of Durant. “He's definitely one or two in the world, as far as being the best player. Him and LeBron (James) are definitely the best players in the world. When you've got a 6-10 guy like that who can stretch the floor and handle the ball, he can defend, he can pass. He's just got everything in his game.
“He's Hall of Fame material right now. He's already won three scoring championships at this young age. He's got his team on his back in the championship series. They're going to be the team to beat, not only in the West but in the league for years to come, because they've got a young team and he's the catalyst behind it.”