Can Durant overtake James?

If OKC wins the 2012 NBA title, Durant could move past James on the list of the NBA's best players. Robert Mayer/US Presswire

LeBron James and Kevin Durant were in a tug-of-war for the MVP award all season long, at least on my ballot. James grabbed the early lead with his phenomenal all-around play, but Durant moved ahead when the Miami Heat began struggling against elite teams. Then the Oklahoma City Thunder began struggling, period, and with both clubs suffering through lulls of head-scratching losses, we were left to evaluate the two simply on their individual games.

And James' was better, so he won.

James is the best player in the world. It's very clear to me, and, I think, to most. We've never seen his combination of size, speed, quickness, strength, skill, passing ability, court vision and versatility. But after eight years, he is ringless, and that matters.

So what if James finishes his ninth season ringless? And what if that ring instead goes to Durant? Would that enable Durant to supplant James as the best player in basketball?