Kevin Durant has had plenty of time and space to reflect upon his comments that James Harden, and not Dwyane Wade, should have been ranked in SI.com's Top 10 Players of 2014, but he hasn't changed his mind. If anything, he's strengthening his rhetoric.
EuroHoops.net unearthed an interview of Durant conducted by Greece's OTE TV, and the Thunder's four-time All-Star forward suggests that perhaps Wade's turn at center stage is over.
"I stand by what I said, Durant said. "A lot of people disagree with me but it is what it is. It's nothing against D-Wade, he's a great player, he's set his mark in the league as one of the best shooting guards ever. But, like I said, I just thought as an older guy it was his time to pass the torch down to the younger guys. Just like somebody did to him, just like somebody did to me, and I'm going to have to do to somebody later on. I just thought it was his time."
Back in September, The Point Forward unveiled our Top 100 Players of 2014, placing Durant at No. 2, Wade at No. 8 and Harden at No. 11. Durant's original "Harden over Wade" assessment came in an interview with Cinesport.com soon after the rankings were published.
“I think you’re missing on James Harden,” Durant said. Asked which player his former Thunder teammate should replace, Durant replied, without hesitation: “Dwyane Wade.”
Wade then posted a response to Durant’s statement on his Instagram account.
Dating the note 9/24/13, Wade wrote: “Kevin Durant said James Harden should replace me in the top 10… Note to self: Make him respect your place in history… again … “
In a response to Wade’s response, Durant wrote on Twitter: “Show me, don’t tweet me.”
Harden later said that he felt like he was "for sure" a top-10 NBA player and Durant made a similar "pass the torch" statement in a September interview with SI.com's Chris Mannix.
While the war of words has mostly been beaten into the ground by this point, Durant's latest statement -- made while the Thunder were in Turkey for a preseason exhibition -- is noteworthy because his tune didn't change after Russell Westbrook was lost for the opening portion of the regular season due to a second knee surgery.
Someone as competitive as Durant clearly isn't going to do an about-face on such a hot button issue just because his teammate went down to an injury, but taking the exact same tact knowing that he will be leading the Thunder without Westbrook until roughly December is a reflection of just how locked in Durant is this season. It's also likely a reminder of just how sick he is of watching Wade, LeBron James and the Heat enjoy their perch atop the NBA's mountain.
As for Wade, 31, this amounts to a nice, second helping of bulletin material. Who you calling an "older guy"?
If this nifty Euro-step during a Saturday preseason win over the Spurs is any indication, Wade's still got a firm grip on his torch.
Hat tip: HoopsHype