Originally Published: Jan 20, 2010 8:43 AM CDT
It finally happened Saturday night. Someone finally got in Kevin Durant’s face, trying to intimidate the Thunder star. Jermaine O’Neal of the Miami Heat took exception to a semi-elbow as they got caught up in some traffic, and then the stare down (with a few words) began. It didn’t last long. Several OKC players stepped in, order was quickly restored and the Thunder went on to an 18-point win.
It isn’t that I’ve waited for that moment to happen, it’s just that when it did I thought about how it hadn’t happened before. Remember that one shining year at Texas? Durant glided through, hardly roughed up legally, much less challenged with any extracurricular stuff. Oklahoma Sports colleague Chad McKee asks if Durant will be the NBA’s Wayne Gretzky, that whenever Durant gets "O’Nealed," he’ll have the more burly set of OKC front-courters coming to his aid.
With the wins coming so much more easily than last season, the games matter more, the intensity increases, and the probability of excessive physical attention will come Durant’s way more often. Keeping the goons at arm’s length is a good rule to follow. Especially with Durant’s wing span.