I feel most of the time like Kevin Durant is a birthday present from the god of basketball to me personally, so please don’t take this as criticism. But he’s a really, really weird sort of superstar. He is self-evidently lethal, intimidated by nothing, and cooler under pressure than most of us are asleep. At the same time, you don’t get the same sense of compulsive ultra-competitiveness from him that you do from the average NBA alpha dog. Guys like Kobe and Michael survey the court like they’re looking for rebellions to subdue. They invent slights to give themselves motives to crush people. Durant seems infinitely more self-contained — like he’s not even thinking that much about the other players or who’s the best or who defers to whom, he’s just doing his own thing, only his own thing happens to be absolutely brilliant. There’s a basic insecurity that drives the need to be recognized as dominant, but Durant somehow has the ability to dominate without being driven by it. His signature move isn’t blowing to the basket and leaving humiliated defenders in his wake, it’s curling off a screen, jab-stepping, then going up for some bewilderingly slightly off-balance jump shot that somehow reconfigures your sense of angles. He’s just a dude taking part in space. He’s not deficient as a leader — he’s actually a pretty good one — but for all his natural gregariousness, something about his game seems to point toward an ideal in which leadership doesn’t have to exist.