The budding rivalry between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat appears to be born out of a mutual respect.
Kevin Durant, before squaring off against Miami in the second and final regular season meeting between the two teams Thursday night, expressed his for LeBron James and the Heat.
“I love playing him. I love it. I love it,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “They bring the best out of everybody. They're a great team. They're a really well-coached team. They play well together, and they won a championship.”
Durant's sentiments stemmed from a question about whether the Thunder-Heat matchup is indeed bubbling up to the point of becoming a rivalry. The reigning three-time scoring champ said last year's Finals series helped fuel that notion. He added that his admiration for James and fellow star Dwyane Wade is what further drives him against the Heat.
“I like playing against them,” Durant said. “I like playing against LeBron. I like going at him every chance I can. I like going at D. Wade every chance I can, just because I respect those guys so much and I look up to them. People tend to forget that I'm four years younger than those guys. They've been in the league 10 years. I've been in for five. So I just look up to those guys. I really respect them, and to show my respect I go out there and do what I do.”
JAZZ PLAYER CALLS DURANT'S FOUL A DIRTY PLAY
After receiving his first career flagrant foul late in Tuesday's game, Durant's hip-check on Utah guard Alec Burks was deemed a dirty play by Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll.
Immediately after Durant's foul on Burks, Carroll approached Durant, wrapped an arm around Durant's waist and said a few words. Durant promptly shoved Carroll away with a forearm. The two were called for a double technical foul.