Kevin Durant
David Richard | USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant is a great basketball player. But is he a legendary one?

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes we are about to find out after his no-show outing in the Nets’ Game 2 loss to the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

“Someone called me last night … they said, ‘Greatness and legends,'” Smith said Thursday on First Take. “There’s no question [Durant is] one of the great ones. We ain’t debating that. But when you talk about legends, one of the reasons you look at some of those other legends was their ability to galvanize the troops.”

Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas — all had the ability to put their teams on their back and turn things around when needed, Smith said. Does Durant with the Nets heading home for Saturday’s Game 3 down 2-0 to Boston?

“We don’t know if that’s KD,” Smith said. “We’re on the verge of finding out.”


What we do know: Durant was brutal Wednesday. He had 27 points, but went 0-of-10 in the second half as the Nets blew a fourth-quarter lead in their 114-107 loss. Durant was also ineffective in the Game 1 loss.

“This is a tragic performance by him in these first two games,” Smith said. “My God, I have never seen Kevin Durant look this bad. … He looked shook, he looked rattled.

“It was an abysmal, embarrassing performance by Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of getting swept. I can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth.”

Smith didn’t solely hammer Durant.

“Kevin Durant ain’t alone,” he said. “Let me indict Mr. Kyrie Irving. Both of them combined two shoot eight-of-30 from the field. Just abysmal. And did you hear what Kyrie Irving alluded to after the game? Basically alluded to himself being docile. … How the hell that happen with all that time he missed?”

That said, no one is expected Irving to rally the Nets. That falls on Durant.

“I believe he’s up to it, but he had damn well better be by Saturday,” Smith said. “If they don’t win Saturday, they’re going to get swept.”

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.