Kevin Durant and LeBron James are buds. They hang out and work out together in the summer. They spent time together as part of Team USA. They are friends.
That is hard to swallow for people who long for a 1960s mentality where the players on opposing teams didn’t really know each other. They want to think the players buy into rivalries like they do.
And Kevin Durant hears it.
When picking up his Sportsman of the Year award from Sports Illustrated LeBron said that Durant is the guy that pushes him now, challenges him to be the best player he can. And Durant’s response, via the Oklahoman’s Thunder blog, shows the depth of respect the two have.
“Well, I really appreciate that comment because people want us to hate each other so bad. That’s true. People want us to hate each other,” Durant said with a smile. “I really respect him and I really compete against him hard — him and Kobe (Bryant). I play against those guys, they’re the guys who I’m looking at, who I want to get to, and I compete against those guys really, really hard, but we’re friends. We’re friends, everybody knows that. Once you get on that court and you’re playing against one of your friends, you play to win no matter what. Sometimes he might get the best of you, I might get the best of him one time. But I really respect him (James) and that’s cool that he thinks of me that way and I’ve just got to keep working hard to continue to get better.”
Some fans seem to think that if players are friends, they don’t go at each other as hard. I don’t buy it. Durant said as much. I mean, when you play hoops (or pool or whatever) against your friends, don’t you go at them harder than you do some random guy at the pick-up game?
You get the feeling we’re going to get to see LeBron and Durant go at each other with a lot on the line a few more times in the future. And that is going to be a lot of fun.
The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.
No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.
No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.
There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.
Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.
Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.
Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.
This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.
Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.
They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.
Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.