Cris Carter details why we should ‘praise’ Kevin Durant after leading Warriors to victory over Rockets

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Reflecting on the Golden State Warriors defeating the Houston Rockets in game one of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, Cris Carter details to Nick Wright, Jenna Wolfe and NBA champion Stephen Jackson why we should praise Kevin Durant for leading the Warriors to victory over James Harden and Chris Paul's Rockets.

- Of the top five players in the world, over the last year and a half, we've criticized KD more than any of those top five players. Would you guys agree?

- Not for his basketball.

- Not for basketball.

- Yeah, what difference does it make?

- Right. We have.

- Sure.

- We have.

- So, true. Yeah, right? Today should be his day where we should praise him because what KD is, man, he's a basketball-playing dude, man. And that's what we saw last night. We saw all the time that he spends in the gym on display.

One, two-dribble, shoot it. Post-up, turnaround, shoot it. A triple threat behind the 3-point line. Get inside the 3-point line, shoot it. Straight turnaround.

I mean, the basic fundamentals. This is one of the best fundamental games shooting the basketball that you will ever, ever see. He's a special player. We knew Golden State, their system was really good. They got a good team.

But they're not that type of special without KD. And there is, there's an answer for Steph, offensively, what you do to him. There's a answer even to LeBron as far as what you can do to him. But KD, there is no answer, on this Golden State team, of what you can do to build, take KD away. He can get any shot that he wants, at any time, anywhere on the court.

- But this isn't the first time we're learning this about Kevin Durant. We know how good Kevin Durant is. And we also know how good Kevin Durant could be. So what was Houston's game plan coming in and how to, at least, slow him down?

- Well, it was a no-game plan for KD. I guess they thought they could just man-up with everybody and try to be solid. But to reiterate what you said, we always talk about LeBron being the greatest and all this, but we've never seen a KD either.

We've never seen a seven-footer that can dribble, that can shoot, that's athletic. You gotta remember, he's second-- he's tied for second in the most scoring titles with AI. Like, this guy has been scoring since he got in the league. We not-- we talk about LeBron and them, but we don't give KD enough credit about his basketball game.

- Well, that's-- and to be fair though, KD was on the track to be talked about like LeBron. And then you guys can say it's unfair. I don't think it is. We then, we don't know how to do the math when he's on Golden State.

Like, look at the quote on the screen. Steve Kerr calls Kevin Durant the ultimate luxury. When you are the second-best player in the world, and your coach says it's a luxury-- a luxury, by definition, is something you don't need.

- Everybody's got the same amount of money. Everyone's got draft picks.

- Sure.

- We had free agency.

- Sure.

- LeBron's moved a couple of times in free agency.

- And Chris, and I'm not denying Kevin Durant his agency.

- Ain't nothing wrong with making a great decision.

- Nothing wrong with winning, either.

- Agreed. But when Stephen says, we talk about LeBron doing this, and we need to give KD his due, I agree we need to give KD his due. But it's hard, as a basketball analyst, to compare what KD is asked to do to any of the other great players.

What the Rockets need from James Harden is so different than what the Warriors need from Durant. I mentioned it earlier. Through three quarters, Kevin Durant had 30 points, one rebound, zero assists. He was doing exactly what the Warriors--

- He did take the challenge of guarding Harden, too.

- From the jump. From the jump.

- Sure. And I think--

- From the beginning of the game.

- He has shown, this year, to be, this year in particular, an excellent defender. But it's--

- Last year's excellent defender, it was different. He was at the rim more.

- Right. And this year, well, in this year, he was doing that as well. In the first two months of the year, he was leading the NBA in blocks.

- Right.

- I just-- it's hard to do the math on him because of the team he's on. That's the downside to his decision. The upside is they won the ring last year, he was Finals MVP, they're the favorites to win it this year. Like, I think that's part of the reason that when you say we don't give him his due is, what do you do when he joins that team?

- Well, you gotta respect the man that wants to win. Any basketball player that comes into the NBA, and that's in it not to win, what are you in the game for? I don't care if you LeBron, KD, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, anybody, you want to be in a position where you want to be the best. Now, you have guys that come in the game that really don't love the game, that's in the game for its benefits and what the game can do for them. KD loves the game of basketball.

- And there's also a lot of star players would never embrace going to Golden State and playing with those other potential three Hall-of-Famers.

- He could have stayed at OKC, and padded his stats, and won a scoring title every year. It's about winning. And that's what I respect about KD. You can't be mad at him going to join a team and win because he's gonna finish his career with multiple championships.