During his postgame press conference on Thursday following the Lakers’ win over the Suns, LeBron James showed the surest sign that he is aging. A man known for his encyclopedic mind, LeBron was asked about his first matchup with Kevin Durant. But he couldn’t recall it.
Multiple media members remarked how LeBron remembers everything to which he showed similar surprise. Rather quickly, though, he began filling in the details. He recalled that Durant was on the Sonics (he was) and that the meeting came in Cleveland (it did).
LeBron’s memory is still as sharp as ever, even if it might take a second or two longer. His “struggling” to remember — it was hardly a struggle, jokes aside — also had as much to do with the fact that the aforementioned showdown came 15 years ago.
The game was in 2008, Durant’s rookie year, and while KD outscored LeBron, the Cavs won handily. Flash forward to Thursday and the same story played out with Durant dominating for three quarters before the Lakers extinguished the Suns in the fourth to earn the win.
Between those two games? Countless games — 22 regular season and 14 postseason — with varying levels of importance, including a number at the highest level. Thursday’s game was far from their most important but there’s a good chance it will be one of their final.
“I never take for granted the opportunities and the games we get the opportunity to be on the same floor at the same time,” LeBron said postgame. “We’ve had so many battles. Over his career and my career, we’ve just been able to make so many plays individually for our respective teams throughout that. Being able to be in (one) Olympics with him as well, I think it’s pretty special. We don’t have many matchups left. I’m not sure how many we have left. You don’t ever want to take it for granted when you’re out there with such a great player, one of the best to ever play the game. It’s always a treat and it’s fun.”
The end of LeBron’s career has, quite publicly, come into the forefront over the last year. At 35 years old, Durant is far, far from a spring chicken himself. The pair very well might get another chance to team up next summer in Paris, but there’s a very finite amount of games left between the two.
If nothing else, the last five years have proven how easy it is for two players to simply not be healthy at the same time. Even if it’s unlikely that Thursday is their final game, it was a memorable showdown between the two, Durant scoring with lethal efficiency while LeBron coming up big down the stretch.
As things stand, the two sides are slated to meet three more times. And if LeBron and Durant suit up any more times across from one another, be sure to not take it for granted.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.