Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has had a great career up to this point. Does his story mirror a popular Disney character?
With the increasing likelihood of the 2019-20 NBA season resuming at Walt Disney World in Orlando according to Shams Charania, it got me thinking of famous Star Wars and Disney character, Darth Vader, and how his legacy resembles Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant in a lot of ways.
Think about it… KD came into this league as a young kid who could threaten LeBron James as the best basketball player in the world. Similarly, Anakin Skywalker was discovered as a little boy on a planet by two Jedi masters but quickly showed his potential to be one of the most powerful Jedi ever.
From there, Durant went on to lead his Oklahoma City Thunder into a powerhouse team and eventually bring them to the Finals in 2012 only to lose to LeBron and the Miami Heat in five games. Anakin, on the other hand, emerged as a hero in the Clone Wars and was building up his prophecy of being the “Chosen One” to bring balance to the force.
Things started to look really good for both of them as heroic figures, as Durant finally broke through for his first MVP award in 2014, and Anakin married the love of his life, Padmé, while continuing to be celebrated as one of the best Jedi out there.
Both were good-hearted people at the core. However… they both ended up making unpopular decisions, and it costed them their reputation as beloved figures.
Anakin had a fear of loss that stemmed from the death of his mother and feared he was going to lose Padmé, so Emperor Palpatine, who he had developed a very close relationship with when he was acting as a Chancellor, manipulated him into thinking that the Jedi were bad people, and if he joined the dark side of the force, he could develop even more power that includes preventing death.
All of those events led him to join the Sith as Darth Vader.
Durant, on the other hand, was still not getting the same respect as LeBron since he hadn’t won a championship up to that point, and he just didn’t see the Thunder getting back to the Finals with the Golden State Warriors dominating the league, so instead of looking to be the “Chosen One” to bring balance back to the league and try to beat them while either playing for the Thunder or another team, he decided to join them since he knew it was his best chance at winning a championship.
Much like Emperor Palpatine, Draymond Green courted Durant and called him from the parking lot after their Game 7 loss in the NBA Finals and begged Durant to join them to form their own “Evil Empire.”
That sales pitch more than likely included the fact that Durant can finally add a ring to his legacy and have the satisfaction of beating LeBron on the game’s biggest stage, and with that, he’ll finally earn the respect of being mentioned in the same breath of some of the all-time greats.
All of those factors motivated Durant to leave the only franchise he’s ever played for and join a team that came up just came up short in the Finals that season, but went an NBA-record 73-9 in the regular-season without him in the mix.
Anakin got his wish by being in a situation where he was always encouraged to use his power and become a leader in his own right, and Durant got his wish by winning rings and an opportunity to beat LeBron in the biggest games of the season.
In theory, Durant and Anakin got what they initially wanted from their situations, but the fact that they were painted as villains eventually took its toll on them, and both of them decided to leave their situations when they felt the time was right.
Darth Vader seemingly had his moment where he realized that Emperor Palpatine was nothing but pure evil and was probably sick of being manipulated by him, so when he saw Palpatine almost taking the life out of his son, Luke, that was the moment where he knew he could bring balance back to the force and take out Palpatine by sacrificing his own life.
While Draymond Green isn’t necessarily the villain that Palpatine is, he is the Warriors’ best comparison to him given his tendency to play dirty, but similar to Darth Vader, Durant grew tired of Green’s antics, as both of them ended up getting into a spat that went viral. That spat proved to be a huge factor into Durant’s decision to move on.
As unfortunate as this sounds, the moment where Durant proved to be a hero again in many people’s eyes was when he sacrificed his own body in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals to help his team get back into the series being down 3-1.
Durant was already nursing a right calf strain suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, so the decision to go out there ended up making his injury worse as Durant went down with a ruptured right Achilles. However, if Durant never gave it a go in the Finals, then there would’ve been widespread speculation that he quit on the Warriors no matter how messed up it is to downplay any type of injury.
But at that particular moment, the basketball world collectively found themselves rooting for KD to come back healthy again, and a true appreciation for his game was seen all over the place.
Both made sacrifices in hopes of a better outcome, but Anakin’s sacrifice paid off for him since it saved his son’s life and led to him being in the force with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi despite betraying them and joining the dark side. Unfortunately, we can’t say that Durant’s sacrifice ended up paying off for him as well, but what we all can say is that it was very noble of him to suit up and try and give his team a much better chance to win their fourth championship in five years.
Kevin Durant still has a long way to go before ending up in the force, or in basketball terms, the Hall-of-Fame, but if he can deliver the Brooklyn Nets their first-ever NBA championship, then that’ll go a long way in erasing the perception that he took the easy way out and ultimately add a lot more legitimacy to his argument as one of the 10 best NBA players of all-time; effectively making KD and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader’s similar paths come full circle.