Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James: The next great NBA rivalry?
Kevin Durant downplays any potential rivalry with LeBron James, but Durant and James are two of the league's most popular young stars.
Kevin Durant could feel it coming.
It was only a matter of time.
But the moment things began to boil over, boldly and blatantly, came on Oct. 8, the day of the Oklahoma City Thunder's second exhibition game.
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THUNDER VS. HEAT
When: Noon, Sunday
Where: Oklahoma City Arena.
TV: ABC (Cox 8, HD Ch. 705)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* Miami guard Dwyane Wade (wrist) is doubtful for today's game. Heat forward Chris Bosh (ankle) is out.
* The Thunder has won a season-high six games at home.
* Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha's streak of 127 consecutive starts ended Friday against Washington because of a sprained knee. Sefolosha is doubtful to play today.
The Thunder was gearing up to take on Miami. The night before, Heat forward LeBron James was hosting a party in Kansas City. A reporter had asked Durant that day if he would attend. Durant said no, explaining that he generally doesn't hit the town before games.
Durant could barely recognize his response in the next day's paper.
“It made it seem like he gave me an invitation to the party and I declined it,” Durant said. “He never really invited me to that party. I just said I'm not going. So people are starting to twist and turn things a little bit and make things bigger than they are.”
That fabricated friction, however small, symbolizes how some desperately seek to supersize any battle between Durant and James. But as the two stars meet for the first time this season inside Oklahoma City Arena, it seems their paths have aligned naturally to create a genuine rivalry — one that could become the game's next great one.
We might still be a long way from Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird-Magic Johnson material. But Durant-LeBron has potential.
“That's a part of the game,” Durant said, welcoming but not worrying about an impeding individual rivalry.
The networks have taken notice. Today's game between the Thunder and Heat is the first Sunday showcase of the season, a noon tilt that starts ABC's doubleheader and preludes a rematch of last year's Finals between the Celtics and Lakers.
Durant and James are the top two scorers in the league, Durant pacing all players with a 28.8-point average while LeBron ranks second at 26.1. Over the past three games, Durant has scored 109 points while James has scored 101 points.
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