In the 2017 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals, while shooting 55.6 percent overall and 47.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The Warriors beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and KD was named Finals MVP.
Yet the majority of the basketball world (including Steve Kerr) still declared LeBron the best player alive.
As we have learned over the years, not holding the distinction of "best player in the NBA" didn't sit well with Durant.
But according to ESPN's Bomani Jones, the two-time NBA Finals MVP never supplanted LeBron in the eyes of the majority because of something that happened before Durant joined the Warriors.
"He thought it was very simple -- I'm gonna go to Golden State, I'm gonna win these rings, I'm gonna beat LeBron and ya'll are gonna say that I'm the best player in the world," Jones explained on The Ringer's "Real Ones" podcast with Logan Murdock and Raja Bell. "And that would have happened except for one thing -- it's Steph Curry's fault. It's all Steph Curry's fault ... Steph messed it up for him before he even got there.
"In 2016, Stephen Curry had what might be the best offensive season any player has ever had in NBA history. In 2016 -- the first time we started to get the nerve [of saying], 'He might be better than LeBron.' We got into it and a lot of people started to believe it, and then LeBron came back from 3-1 and we ain't fixed our lips not one time to say anyone was better than LeBron.
"Not a damn one of us is gonna say he [Durant] is a better player than LeBron. Because Steph messed it up."
So the collapse in the 2016 NBA Finals was all Curry's fault apparently. It had nothing to do with the knee injury he sustained in the first round of the playoffs vs. the Houston Rockets, Draymond Green's suspension in Game 5, Andrew Bogut's knee injury, Harrison Barnes shooting 5-for-32 over the last three games combined, etc.
Jones then cited another reason KD failed to capture the crown.
"I think it also doesn't help that he played a small part in the Warriors destroying the regular season as a topic of national interest," he said. "When they were going for 73 [wins], we cared about the regular season.
"We cared a lot about that, and they went out and lost the Finals. After they got Durant ... people then kind of tuned out and they thought the Warriors were too good."
Interestingly enough, Durant still has the ability to leapfrog LeBron, as he has been fantastic this year following his Achilles injury -- 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 52.4 percent overall and 43.4 percent from deep.
Check back after the 2021 NBA Finals conclude to see who is considered the best player alive.