Miami Heat forward LeBron James says Kevin Durant is driving him to be the best player he can be rather than rest on his recent laurels.
“I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot,” James said in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated in which the magazine celebrates him as its Sportsman of the Year. “And I know where he is, too. He's in Oklahoma.
“He's my inspiration because I see the direction he's headed, and it's the same direction I'm headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It's a collision course. We're driving one another.”
Durant and James, friends since Durant was in high school, met in the NBA Finals last year, with James leading the Heat to the championship. Durant averaged 30.6 points in the series. James averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists to win Finals MVP.
Despite their rivalry, Durant and James have spent time working out together in each of the past two summers. Both have downplayed their summer sessions given they're competitors and have repeatedly said they're just trying to get better.
“What's important to LeBron is what happens when he is facing KD again, or whoever it is in the Finals,” Heat president Pat Riley told SI. “He needs that player to look back at him and think, ‘This son of a b**** is too big, too strong, and his will is too great.”
DURANT'S CLOSE-TO-SPECTACULAR DUNK
With 32.5 seconds remaining in the first half Tuesday, Durant brought many fans to their feet with a near poster dunk on Nets forward Andray Blatche.
Durant drove down the right side and took flight from about seven feet away from the basket. The only thing standing in between Durant and the rim was Blatche, who Durant tried to jump over to throw down a one-handed dunk.
Durant missed, but a blocking foul was called on Blatche.