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NBA Finals: It's Durant vs. LeBron with legacies on the line

THUNDER VS. HEAT -- They meet with two titles at state, the NBA's and best player on the planet.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 11, 2012

Matchups as magnificent as this one don't often happen.

This is just the fifth time in NBA history that the reigning MVP met the reigning scoring champion in the NBA Finals. It's the first time since Michael Jordan and the Bulls took out Karl Malone and the Jazz in 1997.

Durant has three scoring titles. James has three MVP awards.

Neither has won his first ring.

“Individually, they're the best players in the league,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “They have many ways that they score and many ways that they help their teams win.”

Durant has spent the past few days downplaying the matchup.

“Everybody is going to make the most out of the matchup, or me versus LeBron, but it's the Thunder versus the Heat,” Durant said. “It's not going to be a one-on-one matchup to win the series. It's going to be all about the team.”

Two breaths later, Durant then acknowledged his head-to-head battle with James is “a sexier matchup.”

“I think it's going to be a great matchup,” said Heat star guard Dwyane Wade. “I think it's going to be two players that's going to be tough to guard each other, that's going to have to guard each other. I look forward to seeing what my teammate is going to do against one of the best players.

“I'm glad he has that challenge because it's going to make him play a little different. I'd rather for him to be guarding Kevin Durant than to have to guard DeShawn Stevenson like last year, where he wasn't as involved; and also Shawn Marion, (where) he wasn't involved. Kevin Durant, you've got to have your antennas up at all times. I think it's going to bring the best out of both of them, and it's going to be the best for the game and it's going to be a great show and it's going to be a good matchup.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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