Like most people, NBA players are proud of their roots. Some of them, like ex-NBA star Steve Francis, are so proud that they want to be known as the ones who put their hometown on the map. In 2010, the Houston Rockets icon claimed he was the best player out of DC/Maryland since Len Bias.
Not Kevin Durant, Not Michael Beasley
Francis was born and raised in Maryland where he made a name for himself as a basketball savant. He attended three colleges. In the 1996-97 season, he guided San Jacinto College to 36 straight wins. The following season, Francis guided the Allegany College of Maryland ball team to the National Junior College Tournament. In his third year in college, the athletic guard transferred to the University of Maryland and led the basketball squad to a second-place finish in the ACC.
These milestones made Francis one of the top prospects of the nation. He entered the NBA in 1999 as the second overall pick and became one of the league’s most exciting young guards.
In a 2010 documentary entitled “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson,” Francis declared that he is the best player out of Maryland since Len Bias — known as the only player who could go toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan.
“To be the greatest player out of the DC/Maryland area since Len Bias,” Francis said to SLAM. “Kevin Durant can’t say that. Michael Beasley can’t say that. None of those guys can say that. I am the best player to come out of DC since [Bias].
Around the time Francis dropped the comments, Durant and Beasley were already in the NBA, slowly making a name for themselves. Just like Francis, the two forwards were the top prospects of their class.
Durant was the first to show off his unlimited potential, averaging 30.1 points per game in his third year in the league, which was enough to win him his first scoring title.
Kevin Durant’s response
And so Francis’ comments raised some eyebrows. If Durant weren’t born, perhaps his claim to the Maryland throne would be undisputed. Durant himself sent out a tweet in response to Francis’ comments.
More than a decade since Francis’ claims, safe to say that his argument is as malleable as the first time he uttered it. While Francis was an exciting guard, he only had one playoff campaign.
Say what you want about Durant and his move to The Bay in 2017 and the two rings on his finger, but almost everyone regards him as one of the greatest scorers in basketball history. When KD’s career is over, analysts will continue to analyze his game and compare it with generational prospects. The same thing cannot be said for Steve Francis.