Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, And Pandanalysis

Warning: this post is absolutely ridiculous. If we weren’t in the midst of a lockout, you would want my head on a platter for wasting your time with this. Luckily, you have way too much time that needs wasting as is.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is Carmelo Anthony holding a panda. In the middle of an innocent, harmless Thursday, Melo took control of our meaningless lives for one split second, enlightening us with the beauty above this paragraph, not even managing to ruin it with the ridiculously bad tweet he chose to accompany it with (I quote just for posterity’s sake – “PANDA-MONIUM!”. Ugh).

Of course, as keen (read: bored) NBA fans would recall, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a star small forward posing with a panda while touring China, the natural habitat of the magnificant bear. In fact, just one year ago, this happened.

I guess this is now a thing in the NBA: if you’re a superstar small forward who is also one of the best scorers in the world, you have to take pictures with a panda. Watch out, pandas, because Lebron James is coming, and if you don’t watch your back he will contaminate you with his evil.

Let’s get serious, though. With no actual basketball taking place, we have very little criteria to judge players upon. And judging players is what our entire existence is based upon. We have to take what we can get. So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony’s basketball abilities based on the way they appear on camera next to a panda.

*Hubie Brown voice*

You have to love what you see from Kevin Durant here. Despite obviously being the bigger name than the panda, on the court, it means nothing. We see an outgoing, fun loving young man, with the emotional capabilities to allow his fellow panda to be the star of the show. Durant looms in the background, presence felt but in a secondary manner, even pointing in the panda’s direction, in case the viewer didn’t notice who’s in charge here. Durant shows no sign of protest as the panda gets all the apples (bananas? Pineapples? Passion fruit? What is that thing?), the sign of a true sportsman committed to nothing but winning. Since this is a still shot, we can’t know if Durant was handling the fruit and found a wide-open panda, or just drew away the attention of the defense, allowing the panda to get into position, leaving the work for a point guard zookeeper. But no matter what preceeded this picture, it’s very easy to see that good things happen for pandas when Kevin Durant is around.

With Melo, we see a very different picture. Melo’s game is based on swagger and confidence. While this isn’t necessarily a bad trait – Melo’s confident pose is definitely camera gold – it may not be as conducive to winning. Furthermore, we see that Melo leaves very little breathing room for his photo mate. The entire offense – and the entire panda – is completely in Melo’s grasp. Even though Melo is a talented offensive player, going one-on-one is never as effective as fully utilizing the abilities of your panda. Never.

Moving to the defensive end, it’s clear to see that Durant excels over Melo at defending the panda. The panda easily overpowers Melo in the post, establishing prime position despite being much smaller. Meanwhile, Melo seems to be making an effort of doing what every high school coach would tell you – sitting down on defense – but doesn’t seem to understand exactly what this means. This creates a situation in which Melo is forced to grab the panda in order to stop it. Odds are, Melo was called for a foul right after this picture was taken. Can’t let a panda do that to you, Melo.

Durant, in the meanwhile, does a much better job. Using his length to tower over the undersized panda, Durant uses his right arm to deny the panda of his deadly spin moves (I think we can all agree pandas have deadly spin moves), and stays away from pointless touch fouls. The panda does get the ball in decent position, here – Durant is far from perfect – but once the panda gets there, Durant a very good job using his body to frustrate it. The panda can’t get a shot off, and as a last resort, eats the ball. If you’re on defense, you take that every time.

Last but not least, we have to look at age, here. Durant took his photo in July of 2010, when he wasn’t even 22 years old yet. Melo’s picture is from today, at the prime age of 27. Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re building your franchise around a player you’d clearly be willing to settle for a picture with a panda at the age of 27. But to arrive there before you’re even 22? The upside is enormous! Durant has so many years left ahead of him that it’s almost unthinkable what he can achieve. Pictures with kangaroos or elephants or even a platypus are all within reach.

The conclusion here is pretty clear. Kevin Durant is much better than Carmelo Anthony at posing with a panda, and therefore, the superior basketball player. All that’s left is to hope that Russell Westbrook doesn’t ruin this for us.