Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook Are Pretty Good

February 20, 2012


All of sports, not just basketball, likes to put things in dire terms of good versus evil. It's not true, but it makes things more entertaining, more heated, more dynamic.

One reason I believe the Jeremy Lin story is so captivating is because it finally gives basketball a major market hero for the first time in a very long time. LeBron went from Cleveland to Miami, but the move mangled him. Kobe Bryant has always been scarred by perception. And Derrick Rose is at least slightly stained by the residue of Calipari's hair tonic. But Jeremy Lin is pure. 

We've been told that. We've heard it. We're still processing it. We want to believe it. 

Sometimes the basketball universe crams itself into tight spaces, behaving like some sort of a contortionist in love with a filing cabinet. It's cruel. It's calculated. It's a murder scene. 

The major city skylines are much too bright--they eclipse the night sky. Sometimes stars need to be viewed in prairies and cornfields--in places like Oklahoma City. 

The debate over whether Carmelo Anthony can bend his iron will to Jeremy Lin's wizardry will rage on. Who will change whom? Who will better whom? Whose epic journey are we watching? These are all worthy questions, but we've asked them before. 

Last year, 2011 NBA Playoffs, we watched Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook outshoot each other, not pass to each other, not defer to each other, squabble even with one another. Two emcees. One microphone. It was against Lauryn Hill's laws of physics. 

We often root for such things. 

Good versus evil is entertaining, but a team with two moral compasses pushing a team asunder--that's like way better. That's like Kobe versus Shaq. That's like Stephon and KG. That's like three J's in Dallas. And Wilt pleasing everyone and somehow still winding up the bully. Until Lin came along, civil wars had to be fought for national press to make time for basketball.

But what about the feuds that skip all the blood and go straight to Lincoln's Second Inaugural? Or are Durant and Westbrook still battling? Are they offering forgiveness or are they waging war on each other: You bring your 51 caliber rifle and I'll bring my 40? Sometimes it's difficult to tell whether these two young stars are dueling each other or the other team, but regardless of the motivating factors the results are becoming undeniable:

On a night like they had against the Nuggets, with Serge Ibaka chipping in a triple double, the Thunder looked and acted the part that everyone has drawn up for them: they were the noble dream, like some lost Steinbeck novel about basketball-playing brothers, and it was beautiful to watch, nylon splash after nylon splash. 

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