And Durant has taken dead aim at LeBron. The elevation of Durant's game, from already vaunted heights, since Russell Westbrook's surgery the day after Christmas has some pundits putting Durant and LeBron in the same breath.
The MVP award seems headed Durant's way. But that's a mere consolation prize if the Thunder doesn't dethrone the Heat.
For Durant/LeBron to enter Magic/Bird territory, both sides have to win. That's the bigger hurdle than sheer volume of showdowns.
I know you won't believe it, but Bird and Magic met only three times in the NBA Finals. We remember the '80s as an annual Laker-Celtic cotillion, but only in 1984 (Boston), 1985 (LA) and 1987 (LA) did Larry Bird and Magic Johnson meet in the Finals.
Durant and LeBron are a third of that way already.
Do regular-season meetings matter? More for the Thunder. Having lost six straight to Miami after Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals, the Thunder needed a victory and got it on Jan. 29. A second victory would fortify OKC confidence even more, and whet the appetite for another Thunder-Heat Finals, as serious basketball returns to the NBA.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.