I’ve always known I wanted Kevin Durant to play for my favorite NBA team. I knew this when he first entered the league as a rookie way back in 2007 as a 19-year-old with the franchise that was then still known as the Seattle SuperSonics. While those were very much the middle of the dark days between the time I cheered wildly for Michael Jordan‘s Bulls and this year’s adventure as a new Mavericks fan that reignited my love for NBA basketball, I’ve always loved prodigies who seem destined to become legends.
In the years that have passed, I’ve occasionally glanced at the stats. I’ve seen a few of the highlights. If you’d asked me about Durant before the season started, I would have known even then that he was one of the game’s best. Nothing compares to seeing the players in live action, however, and I haven’t yet gotten to do that. The Mavericks have only played the Thunder once so far this season, and it came when Durant was stuck on the sidelines nursing a hamstring injury. That may have been a relief to the Mavs, who ended up losing the game anyway, but it was disappointing to me.
On Tuesday, Dallas gets another matchup against the team with the best non-Warriors offense, and my thoughts have understandably been focused on finally getting to see that first live-action Durant game. They’ve also been focused on the fact that this talented, versatile, and still young player is a potential free agent-to-be. It may be another six months before the free agents of the 2016 offseason can officially declare themselves as such, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start dreaming.
Dreaming it may be, but Mark Cuban did comment this past offseason that he felt confident his team could woo Durant next summer. There are many reasons why such a scenario should get MFFLs salivating. You can get into the stats all day long, and it isn’t hard to find compelling evidence that he’s one of the best scorers around, probably ever. His MVP Award is still fresh enough to be completely free of dust, and he’s still young enough at 27 to grab more for his trophy room. He can score at will, but he can also rebound and pass. Even his defensive stats all point to him being a plus on that side of the ball. The stats are a given, but it just so happens he also seems like a cool guy who’s good for a laugh.
I also think the combination of Durant and Dirk Nowitzki would be tear-inducing. While the pairing wouldn’t last long with Dirk’s advanced age, the idea of teams trying to stop a frontcourt of two of the best shooters in NBA history is endlessly fascinating. Has such a pure-shooting frontcourt ever existed? Durant’s rangy build, immaculate shooting touch, and ability to create shots off the dribble would be a perfect complement to post-prime Dirk, who can still knock down an open jumper with the best of them. For the record, Durant openly admits Nowitzki is one of his favorite players, and that as a teenager he started working to mimic the one-legged jump shot pioneered by the big German. How nice would it be for the Mavericks fans to bid a bittersweet goodbye to the long-time face of the franchise while simultaneously welcoming one of the few players with the skills to fill his shoes?
There’s also the fact that I think Durant would look fantastic in a Mavericks uniform. Sure, fans of every other franchise think the same thing about Durant in their team’s colors, but the publicity photos I have dreamed up just feel more effective. The narrative of the four-time scoring champion returning to his native D.C. to play for the Wizards has already been firmly established, but that just doesn’t have the same pop from a public relations standpoint.
Picture Durant in a team photo shoot for the Mavericks. He’s wearing a cowboy hat, of course, and it’s tilted forward just enough to protect his head from that harsh sun. He’s got a long strand of wheat in his mouth, and he’s looking straight down at the dirt with a serious expression on his face. His shirt is unbuttoned halfway down his sinewy chest, his arms are crossed, and he’s leaning back against a pickup truck. His Wrangler jeans are well-worn but not worn out, his square toe boots just rugged enough to show that he isn’t afraid to toil outside in the elements. Behind him, the sun is setting, a fiery orange ball drifting low into the sky, where a skyscraper-sized basketball goal stretches up to meet it.
Now tell me how the Wizards are supposed to beat that. The best they can do is throw a robe on him and give him a wand. Based on the wry sense of humor we see in the video above, I’m just not sure Durant could take that. He’d snap that wand over his knee in protest without so much as a hint of an expression on that stoical face.
Early predictions have Durant eventually resigning with the Thunder, which is a boring but understandable thing for him to do. I won’t hide my love for the guy or my desire to see him come to Dallas, but ultimately the odds are stacked heavily against it. In all likelihood Durant will be finishing up his playing days draining threes and dodging tornadoes in Oklahoma City and this is all fantasy, but what a fantasy it is. It’s one I expect to continue dreaming about for several more months.