Nets star Kevin Durant talked about his basketball relationship with LeBron James.
LeBron James might be “The King,” but Kevin Durant beat him twice in the NBA Finals when the Golden State Warriors took down the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not a whole lot separates these two, either. They were both Rookies of the Year, have two NBA Finals MVP awards, and multiple All-Star Game MVPs.
While KD bests LeBron in scoring titles (four to one), LeBron’s a four-time NBA MVP compared to Durant’s one honor. James is also the superior defender, boasting six All-Defensive Team honors. With LBJ four years ahead of Durant, perhaps the Slim Reaper can catch up in a few of these categories to really make it interesting.
But forget the comparisons, the accolades and “the rivalry.” Durant doesn’t view it like that. He’s always viewed LeBron as someone he has to work hard to compete with and match. LeBron’s been his motivation, you could say, and KD couldn’t be more honored to share the court with such a talent.
Here’s what Kevin Durant told Alex Rodriguez and Dan Katz on “The Corp”:
“Since I was in ninth grade and I turned on ESPN, LeBron James was the guy that people were saying was the next Jordan… In my mind, it was like this is the best player, so I have to be as good as this. Or I have to look him in the eyes at some point in my career. That was always in the back of my mind as I worked, as I played games. Because that was what was told me. That was the new guy, that was the next Jordan. But that evolved into it’s just another competitor you know … but just having someone around since I took basketball serious, and we’re still playing against each other, that’s pretty special to me.
You can call it a ‘rivalry,’ you can call it whatever, but to have somebody at the same position where we’re guarding each other when we play is definitely special because he’s one of the best players to ever touch the floor.”
For all the flak Durant gets for being too sensitive and responding to criticism poorly, he’s certainly well-spoken, candid and genuine. He also likes to have a bit of fun. Who would’ve known?
Though Durant and James are once again in different conferences (they’ve only been in the same conference once, which was last year when they were both injured at different points of the season) for the 11 time out of their 12 years in the NBA together, one can assume we’ll see these two in the Finals within the next couple of years.
KD’s still got three years with the Brooklyn Nets and LeBron’s got two more with the Los Angeles Lakers. Right now heading into next year, those teams figure to be the favorites in the East and West.
Perhaps we’ll get another layer to this “rivalry,” especially if it comes down to KD taking the Nets to the Finals, so the critics can’t lean on the “easy way out” argument with the Warriors.