Nets’ forward Kevin Durant and Lakers’ forward LeBron James will always be linked together as they are each other’s biggest nemesis. The two future Hall of Famers have faced off in three finals alone, Durant winning two of them.
KD and LeBron Have Mutual Respect for Each Other
Last week the NBA released an extremely rare video of LeBron’s conversation with Durant before tip-off of the 2014 Most Valuable Player’s first All-Star Game back in 2010. Even though Durant was still one of the young guys in the league at the time, LeBron could already see that he was destined for greatness.
LeBron has always had respect for Durant even when it hurt to do so. Back in 2017, when KD captured his first title with the Golden State Warriors, LeBron admitted that it hurt losing to Durant, despite the close relationship that he had with the Most Valuable Player. Despite him joining at 73-9 Warriors team, James still respected the grind.
“Well, I’m not happy he won his first. I’m not happy at all,” James said after losing the 2017 Finals via SB Nation.
“But at the end of the day from when I played him in the 2012 Finals to now, like I said, experience is the best teacher in life, and he’s just experiencing and experiencing and experiencing. And it also helps when you are able to experience some things with this team as well. He felt like he needed to reassemble and reassess his career and come here.”
LeBron Understood Why Durant Joined Golden State
Durant infamously came under first after joining a 73-9 Golden State Warriors team in the Summer of 2016. Especially since the Thunder had just lost to that same team in the Western Conference Finals after blowing a 3-1 lead. While fans and members of the media may have belittled Durant for his decision LeBron completely understood.
“And at the end of the day, nobody can — no matter what anybody says from now on in your career or whatever they say, they can never take away from you being a champion,” James continued.
“That’s something that they are always going to speak about you. It may be like the last thing they may say, but they are always going to have to say that you’re a champion.”
Durant Has Been Eyeing LeBron From Day One
In the past, Durant has admitted that LeBron is the only player he believes is on his level. Back in 2013 the year before Durant won his lone Most Valuable Player award, he admitted to stat watching LeBron’s nightly box score.
“I don’t watch a lot of other basketball away from the gym. But I do look at LeBron’s box score,” Durant admitted via Sports Illustrated.
“I want to see how many points, rebounds, and assists he had, and how he shot from the field. If he had 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, I can tell you exactly how he did it, what type of shots he made and who he passed to.”
Because of the unbelievable talent between KD and LeBron the two are often pitted against each other to make for better theater. However, Durant insists that they are only enemies on the court. Off the court, they have great respect for each other.
“People see two young black basketball players at the top of their game and think we should clash. They want the conflict. They want the hate,” Durant continued.
“They forget Bird cried for Magic. A friend was getting on me about this recently, and I said, ‘Calm down. I am not taking it easy on him. Don’t you know I’m trying to destroy the guy every time I go on the court?'”
Durant and LeBron will face off one more time when they pick their respective All-Star Game teams this week.