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NBA Finals: Could LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant be the NBA's next great rivalry?

The Heat's LeBron James and the Thunder's Kevin Durant certainly delivered in the just-concluded NBA Finals. If their teams cooperate and advance to the Finals a few more times, we could be looking at the NBA's next great rivalry.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 24, 2012

“Great moment for myself and for him,” LeBron said of their Finals showdown.

The series was barely over before fans, media, players nationwide started talking about a rematch.

“That would be fun,” Durant said. “I enjoy competing against LeBron James. I enjoy trying to kill him every time down. I'm sure he enjoys it as well. It's a fun rivalry, trying to go at him every play. Be the better player and also win.”

Amid the Heat's on-court celebration after Game 5, Durant and LeBron shared a postgame moment.

“He just told me I had a great series,” Durant said. “I told him congrats and enjoy it. He had a hell of a year.”

Durant and LeBron aren't enemies. This isn't Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas. Durant and LeBron even staged that flag football game in Akron during the NBA lockout. Durant even called them “close friends.”

That didn't make losing any easier. Didn't make watching that Heat celebration any more tolerable.

“He won,” Durant said. “As a competitor, it was tough to go see that. Tough to even go over there and talk to him. He has the bragging rights over the summer. It's going to be fun the next few years.”

This is all splendid speculation, but nothing is assured. For all the revelry of the Lakers-Celtics of the ‘80s, they met in the Finals just thrice.

In the West, the Lakers never stay down long, the Mavericks retooled to load their roster and the Spurs remain the Spurs.

In the East, Chicago might have derailed a Heat-Thunder Finals this season if not for Derrick Rose's knee injury.

But same as Durant and LeBron are the NBA's hot-button players, the Heat and Thunder are the hot-button teams.

“You know, it's scary to see those young guys, man, and to be in this position,” Miami's Dwyane Wade said of the Thunder. “They're so talented. They have an unbelievably bright future here.

“This is one of the best Finals, when you talk about matchups, when you talk about everyone tuning in and wanting to see … we lived up to the billing.

“They're going to be around for a while, and we would love to be around just as long and just as much.”

And if so, Durant-LeBron will take its place among the NBA's greatest rivalries.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at 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