While everyone in the NBA has generally regarded LeBron James to be the undisputed “king” of basketball for the last 5 years, there has been another young star developing that soon might just dethrone the Miami Heat sensation. Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant is a beast and he’s currently the league’s top scorer. While he is still young and reaching his peak level of playing, is the time nigh for Durant to rise up and derail James’ incredible run of NBA titles?
The rivalry was first brought up during the 2012 NBA Finals. It was James’ first victory in the league and was a dominating one. While Durant had the support of both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, all three of the Thunders players were in their lower 20’s. Meanwhile the Heat were led by James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, all of whom were in their later 20’s. More mature and developed as players, the Heat had their way with the Thunder and won easily 4 games to 1.
But while the Heat pushed on to win a second championship last season, the Thunder experienced heartbreaking losses. Not only did Harden depart the team, but Westbrook got hurt in the 2013 NBA playoffs, and Durant was unable to shoulder the entire burden for his team.
But now at age 25, Durant isn’t necessarily a young, inexperienced kid anymore. He has been dealt some tough lessons in the past, but his play has continued to grow, and he is now a major threat to LeBron James’ NBA dominance. Remember, a young LeBron once took the Cleveland Cavaliers all the way to the NBA Finals, only to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs back in 2007. Experience is definitely a bonus in the latter stages of an NBA season.
Kevin Durant has come out guns blazing in 2014, averaging an astounding 35.9 points per game in the month of January. His great play has found the Thunder currently atop the Western Conference standings at 43-13 (The Heat are 40-14). There has even been a discussion that Durant could be the frontrunner for the NBA MVP this year. While a big game by James and the Heat in a 103-81 victory over the Thunder last week did quiet these rumblings, the message clearly got home.
And while that minor victory was surely a nice ego stroke for James (though his nose got broken in the process), what matters is what happens in June, when everything is on the table. Will James win his 3rd straight title and begin to really begin to start the argument of his greatness compared to Michael Jordan, or will Durant finally reach his potential, win a championship, and begin a huge new rivalry between the pair? Something tells me that the NBA is bracing up for a crash course between these two superstars and that Durant is finally going to have his say this time around. Looking ahead to the future, this pair might be dueling it out for the next 5 years as the LeBron James – Kevin Durant rivalry seems to just be getting started!
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