Kevin Durant knocked down one of the shots of the year on Friday, sinking a deep game-winning three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime to beat the Raptors in Toronto. That three put him over 50 points for the second time this season, it further bolstered a strong case for the first MVP award, and it caused one opponent to turn to a religious icon to put his play into context.
"If you got Kevin Durant on your team, you're safe," Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez said, according to SBNation.com. "He's like Jesus in this league. He makes unbelievable shots. It's funny because we went to high school together and now I see his development and how he plays in this league. He gotta be one of the best, probably the best player in the world right now."
Told of Vasquez's comparison, The Oklahoman reported that Durant replied: "Greatest man to walk the Earth. ... I'll fail miserably if I try to stack up to that guy."
Durant and Vasquez both attended Montrose Christian High School in Maryland in 2005-06, Durant's senior year of high school.
Throughout his seven-year career, Durant has openly discussed his Christian faith. On Friday, he credited God for "[guiding] that thing to the basket."
Hall of Fame Knicks guard Earl Monroe was dubbed "Black Jesus," among other nicknames, and Heat guard Ray Allen has been called "Jesus" due to the name of his character in Spike Lee's He Got Game, Jesus Shuttlesworth.
In a Grantland.com interview, Durant was asked to give himself a nickname, and he suggested "The Servant."
"I like to serve everybody," he explained. "My teammates. Ushers at the game. The fans. ... I like The Servant, I know it's kind of weird to make your own nicknames up, but I like that one."
Vasquez's comment recalls a line from Pacers guard George Hill, who was struggling with how to stop Heat forward LeBron James during the 2013 playoffs.
“It’s only like one person that’s more scarier than that and that’s God,” Hill said. “I’m sure if we were looking at Him in the face we would be very nervous. I’m sure He could make all the plays that we want people to make. LeBron is a great player, he’s the MVP for a reason, he’s one of the best to ever play this game. He’s a big focal point. We know that when he’s up there probing the floor and looking at everything that we can’t just focus on him, we have to focus on the people around him, because he’s a great play-maker. He has our full attention.”
Told of the comparison, which came after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, James demurred.
“I’m nowhere near close,” he said. “I made two mistakes tonight that hurt our team. That hurt more than anything, to let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch. I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns, but the best thing about it is that this isn’t college. It’s not one loss and you’re done. I’ll have another opportunity to get better in Game 3.”
The 25-year-old Durant, who is leading the NBA in scoring at 32.2 points per game, recently launched the "Strong & Kind" movement to "challenge deep-rooted stereotypes and redefine cultural perceptions of strength and kindness." The initiative included this list of personal pledges:
- I pledge to have the courage to be kind when others may not.
- I pledge to look out for those who can't look out for themselves.
- I pledge to stand up when others would rather stand out.
- I pledge to leave my world a kinder place than I found it.
- I pledge to be STRONG & KIND
Last year, Durant made headlines for donating $1 million
to tornado disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma.