I would have given up a lot to be in the room last summer when LeBron James found out Kevin Durant had signed with the Warriors.
Durant and LeBron were already rivals (only on the court) after they met in the 2013 NBA Finals and generally from being the two best players in the NBA for years. The growth of the rivalry was noticeable when the two stars had a heated exchange during Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but James stayed civil and diplomatic when NBA.com’s David Aldridge asked James a potentially tricky question: his thoughts on why people have reacted differently to the Warriors signing Durant when there have been numerous instances in NBA history of franchises putting together stacked teams.
Here is LeBron’s response:
“Well, I can see it from both sides. Not gonna exactly give you my opinion on how I can see it from both sides. I will at some point in my career. I’m not at that point right now because I know what I say kind of gets — people take it the wrong way. … So a few years from now I’ll tell you how I really feel about the whole situation.
“But they’re a great team. They’re assembled as good as you can be as a professional team, and they’re on a quest to win a championship. You can respect that.”
Even though James isn’t willing to tell us exactly what he thinks, we can get an idea of his opinion. Just last week, The King told media if he ever becomes an owner, he’d try to assemble the best possible roster just like the Warriors did. After all, James has basically already done that twice as a player, orchestrating a superteam in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and then forming a new Big Three in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. As someone who’s brought superstars together, although never on a roster as stacked as the 2016-17 Warriors, coming out strongly against Durant’s move to Golden State would be pretty hypocritical.
At the same time, LeBron also gave everything he had last season to complete a remarkable comeback against the 73-win Warriors after being down 3-1 in the Finals. For Golden State to take arguably the best team of all time, add the second-best player in the world, and then go up 3-0 on the Cavs in this year’s Finals when half the basketball world keeps downgrading you Michael Jordan won twice as many titles … you can understand why James sees a second side to this.