LeBron James and Kevin Durant have faced each other in three NBA Finals matchups, including the last two. James’ move to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this summer will end that trend (two Western Conference teams can’t both make the finals), but Durant and James are still going to see each other plenty as L.A. battles with the Golden State Warriors for Pacific Division and conference supremacy.
Durant is excited about that increased proximity, although he told Marc J. Spears of ESPN that he “loved” James’ decision for a lot more reasons when asked what he thought of James joining the Lakers:
”I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a perfect decision, perfect move. He did everything he was supposed to do in Cleveland, and I think this was the perfect next move for him. He’s kind of breaking down the barriers of what a superstar is supposed to be. I feel like you’re supposed to play it out in one spot but I feel like he did a good job of giving different chapters, and it’s going to make his book even more interesting when it’s done.”
James made the idea of free agency team-ups among star players more common in the NBA, and the way he’s taken charge of his own destiny at every opportunity has served as a demonstration of the level of power and agency players have over where they play and more.
This is a change that is probably fairly personal to Durant, given that he joined a 73-win team in free agency, and may not have had the conviction to do so had James not started to change the narratives about superstars needing to have their own team or play somewhere their entire careers instead of just doing whatever made them happy.
Plus, if one believes all the hype about Durant potentially leaving the Warriors next summer, then James jumping around the NBA would also help set a precedent for that type of move as well.
However, as much as he may have supported it, Durant also said that when the two spoke earlier this month — likely referencing the party that TMZ staked out — it wasn’t about James’ move to the Lakers. Or at least not directly:
”Just life. I’m excited about what lies ahead for him and for us, as men more so than basketball players. Just breaking bread and just showing love.”
James’ and Durant’s mutual respect for one another is evident, and they’ll surely continue to show each other love for years, at least whenever they aren’t battling for the Pacific Division and Western Conference crown moving forward.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.