Check this out:
The man on the left is my favorite musician of all time, John Coltrane. The man on the right is Kevin Durant, who is about to find out which city in the Pacific Northwest he will set on fire for the next few years.
The thing that has always appealed to me about Coltrane is that his music hits all the important places: the head, the heart, and the soul. If we’re all lucky, we’ll be able to say the same thing about Kevin Durant’s game at the next level. The physical resemblance that strikes me between these two men is primarily in the eyes – a strong and direct gaze, and a confidence that says “I am about to righteously blow your mind”.
Coltrane had a vision for music that sounded like noise to those who were unprepared to hear what he was laying down, but he could play sweet enough to make a woman swoon when he wanted to. Perhaps one day Kevin Durant will have that same command of his instrument.
There is no doubt, however, that supporting cast is crucial. Trane had a rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison on many of his truly classic recordings, including his magnum opus A Love Supreme. Later he even brought in fellow saxophonist Archie Shepp when he was ready to get really radical. It wasn’t always the same guys, but it was always someone who knew how to play within Trane’s groove.
The most crucial aspect of the coming years for Kevin Durant will involve the selection of sidemen for his upcoming tour de force. Perhaps he can reach a place where that fiery ebb and flow will be his to command, just as it once was for John Coltrane. When he finds that ability to play something old in a new way, and something new in an earth-shattering way…. well, look out, NBA. That’s all I can say.
(Props to Free Darko, where Basketball is Jazz every day of the year)