To: New York NBA fans
From: Rob Parker
Re: Kevin Durant
Stop faking the funk.
Swallow your pride.
It’s time to recognize that Kevin Durant is not only the best player in the world, but a hometown hero.
His performance in a must-win scenario in Game 5 of the second round of NBA playoffs was suitable for framing Tuesday night. With Kyrie Irving hurt and out of action and James Harden a mere shell of himself after returning from an injury, Durant put in work. He played all 48 minutes, scoring 49 points with 17 rebounds and 10 assists in the Nets’ 114-108 victory, giving his squad a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It was a night legends are made off.
Sure, he isn’t wearing Knicks colors, and doesn’t play in The World’s Most Famous Arena.
But he’s playing for New York, for Brooklyn.
Until now, there were many of you who tried to convince yourselves that the Nets were no threat to the Knicks. You were able to mostly ignore the success going on at Barclays Center.
After all, the Knicks shocked NBA America, placing fourth in the Eastern Conference in a season most had little to no expectations.
Knicks fans had their chests stuck out and mad bass in their voices. And rightfully so, it was the Knicks’ first trip to the playoffs in what seemed like since Moby Dick was a guppy.
Despite the loud, rocking crowd at The Garden, the Knicks went out with a whimper in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks in an easy-as-pie five games.
It was a cute run, but it’s over.
And while no one is expecting you to give up your dyed-in-the- wool allegiance to the Knickerbockers, it’s time you watch one of the all-time greats do work in the hardest-working city in this country.
Shake off the idea that Durant — and Irving, for that matter — dissed the Knicks and joined the new-kids-on-the-block Nets instead of the history-rich squad across the East River. Either way, Durant chose NYC. He wanted to play on the biggest stage in front of real, knowledgeable basketball fans.
Even Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo — who is battling Durant and set up to lose big and be denied a chance at finally getting the Finals – couldn’t ignore what took place on the court in BK.
“He’s the best player in the world right now, one of the greatest shots ever,” he said.
High praise, indeed.
That’s why you Knicks fans can’t turn away any longer, try to look past such greatness.
It’s not often you get to see a player of Durant’s stock so up close and personal.
And at the end of the day, New York stands to be the winner. The city has a real chance to raise an NBA championship banner, the first since 1973 when the Knicks were kings of the world.
This isn’t the Jason Kidd-Kerry Kittle Nets that played in Jersey off exit 16W. That team went to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
Talk about nobody caring about that team and its success. Despite their arena being about 11 miles from New York on the other side of the Hudson, it might as well have been in Siberia.
The Nets didn’t rank or register with New Yorkers.
This Nets team is different, it’s a part of the New York fabric. It’s in the five boroughs, it has a showplace arena in downtown Brooklyn.
We get it. Since about ever, the Knicks never had to share the basketball audience with anybody else. It was the only team in New York that had the city’s undivided attention.
In MLB, you had to pick between the Mets and Yankees. In the NFL, it was either you rooted for the Jets or Giants. And in hockey, you couldn’t be a Rangers or Islanders fan. You had to choose.
But everyone was a Knicks fan.
No one is saying you have to hop on the Nets bandwagon, turn in your Knicks jersey or even act as if you’ve been down with the Nets for a long time.
Still, to front and act as if what is happening in Brooklyn doesn’t matter or isn’t important is ridiculous.
Durant isn’t a player you follow because he’s on your team. Durant is an all-time great. The world is his stage. He happens to be performing in NYC, your backyard. You better watch or you’ll miss it. And years from now, regret it. Trust me
Yours Truly, Rob Parker