OKC Thunder: King James sees a threat to his throne — and it's Kevin Durant

It started last season, with an early December declaration that should now be viewed as the first verbal lob that turned friends into foes. We didn't know it at the time, but it foreshadowed the recent and relentless rhetoric coming out of Miami.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 17, 2014

It started last season, with an early December declaration that should now be viewed as the first verbal lob that turned friends into foes.

We didn't know it at the time, but it foreshadowed the recent and relentless rhetoric coming out of Miami.

“I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot,” LeBron James said. “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 mindset, and he knows mine. It's a collision course. We're driving one another.”

James was talking about Kevin Durant.

We thought then, “How nice?” A form of flattery, it seemed.

The last month couldn't feel more different.

First, it was an arcane reference by James to Durant's shot attempts.

“I get jealous sometimes when I look over at KD and he's like 16-for-32 (from the field) and then 14-for-34. Man,” James said.

Next, it was a debate-inducing discussion about which four NBA players would be on James' fictitious Mount Rushmore. He listed Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.

He then said someone would need to get bumped.

“Because I'm going to be one of the top four to ever play this game, for sure,” James said. “And if they don't want me to have one of those top four spots, they better find another spot on that (mountain).”

And finally, James concluded by talking about when Durant would truly feel championship pressure.

“When I retire,” James said. “They're still talking about, ‘Am I going to win a third?' You know?”

Nearly each time James speaks, Durant is now being asked for his reaction.

He had to check a Los Angeles-area reporter last Thursday when the reporter inquired about the “back and forth.”

“There's been no back and forth,” Durant said. “I haven't said anything. Just him talking.”

Durant was asked at the start of All-Star Weekend to rank, on a scale of one to 10, how sick he is of being asked about James and the rivalry that's brewing between the two.

“About 25,” Durant exclaimed. “I mean, it's every day.”

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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