But consider the scene last August at Rucker Park, the famed Harlem courts across the street from where the Polo Grounds once stood, where Wilt, Kareem and Dr. J went up and down the blistering asphalt with playground legends Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond, who holds the Rucker record with 74 points in a game, and Earl “The Goat” Manigault.
After he scored his 66th point in the Entertainers Basketball League last summer, Durant was mobbed by the crowd, a moment he called one of the best in his life when asked about it on Tuesday. “Only thing I remember was that everybody ran on the court,” he said.
K.D. has his own playground-lore moments. Shouldn’t he get consideration as the greatest?
My friend Josh Barr, who covered local basketball at The Post for almost two decades, is coming out with a book in the fall called “Capital Kings,” which details the 25 greatest D.C.-area schoolboy stars ever. Surely, as a relative youngster, he would put Durant No. 1.
“I got him at No. 4 right now behind Baylor, Bing and Dantley and ahead of Grant Hill,” Barr said. “When all is said and done, could Durant be there? Sure. But he’s just so young.”
Not even Troy Weaver, the Thunder’s assistant general manager who is a Prince George’s native and coached the D.C. Assault, would put Durant at No. 1 yet.
“Kevin is up there,” Weaver said. “To me, though, it’s still Adrian Dantley and Dave Bing. I saw film of Bing and remember Dantley. I never saw Elgin Baylor, so I can’t say.”
Either way, Jack George (St. John’s High, 1948) and Austin Carr have been surpassed. Len Bias, too, whom Weaver said could have been the best ever had he not died so young.
I would put Durant ahead of Dantley, because as relentless as A.D. was backing down his defender in the post he was never thought to be a perennial top-five player in the game during his career. That leaves only Bing and Baylor, who once averaged 38.3 points per game in a single season and dropped 71 points in one NBA game.
But he never won an NBA championship, which Durant is just three victories from at 23. If I were called “The Rabbit,” as Baylor was during his Hall of Fame career, I’d start running because within three years, if not sooner, Durant is going to catch him and be forever viewed as the greatest ballplayer to come out of the Washington area.
As Thompson said, cackling, “He sure ain’t on the bottom rung of the ladder, that’s for damn sure.”
For Mike Wise’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.