Every few seasons the king of the NBA or dueling kings of the NBA have to pass the torch to the next in line to control the way the NBA is viewed. Every era has had its king or dueling kings. Go back to the 70’s and it was Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
The 80’s brought us Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and if Julius Erivng hadn’t been late to the party, there’s a very good chance he might have been able to have a say so in that argument as well. The 90’s brought us Michael Jordan. Jordan stood alone on the throne but there were several who would have been able to claim it, had his airness not been so dominant during that era.
The turn of the Century brought us Kobe and Tim Duncan. Two guys who did it two different ways but both were quite effective in their methods. They stood complacent at the top until Lebron showed up on the scene and replaced Duncan as a Kobe adversary. Injury claimed Kobe, but Lebron went on and has held down the throne, but not quite like his predecessors did.
Lebron has surrendered the crown periodically to Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and even briefly to Derrick Rose. Although we could question Lebrons superior legacy, what this really means is that the paradigm has continued to move in a direction of many kings ruling many kingdoms. So who’s next at the top of the basketball paradigm?
Will it be Russell Westbrook or even James Harden. The problem with crowning either of those two is that they are almost at the end of their prime and Lebron hasn’t surrendered the title yet. So who captures the throne next? Is it Anthony Davis who looks like he may take it at any time? Is it Karl Anthony Towns who has all the tools but hasn’t quite found a way to win consistently? Is it Giannis Antetokounmpo who has more athletic ability than anyone his size ever possessed in an NBA uniform and has the game to back it up?
So many questions on who’s next. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as we continue to move forward. Maybe all three give us what we should have gotten in the 80’s. Maybe someone else emerges like a Devin Booker and unleashes a wrath that cant’ be duplicated. The NBA may not know who’s next but it is being left in very capable hands when the king surrenders his throne.