Kevin Durant: I’m on the same level as LeBron James

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Of his go-ahead pull-up 3-pointer over LeBron James in Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals, Kevin Durant said, “I felt like he was passing the torch to me.”

Durant, via Mark Medina of The Mercury News:

“I saw a lot of people took that out of context: What I’m saying is when somebody passes the torch, they’re letting you in the room,” Durant said. “You got LeBron. You got [Dwyane Wade]. You got [Carmelo Anthony]. You got Paul Pierce. You got Larry Bird. You got Dr. J all in a room. It’s my turn to be in there with them and enjoy being one of the best players in the world. It wasn’t the fact that I took it from LeBron and he’s gone now. Obviously he’s still around.”

“Accolades and accomplishments and legacy and all that stuff and how they mean to people, I can’t talk on that,” Durant said. “But as far as basketball skills are concerned? I’m on the same level. I feel like that moment was [LeBron] saying, ‘Welcome.’”

I buy that Durant might have meant the pass-the-torch comment how he explained now, though it’s also possible he’s just backtracking. Someone can hand off his torch, or he can use his lit torch to light someone else’s while keeping his burning.

But LeBron isn’t in a room with Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Larry Bird and Julius Erving. LeBron is the best small forward of all-time. He’s in his own room historically. (I’m not sure how Wade, a shooting guard, got into Durant’s version of the room.)

When it comes to current ability, LeBron is generally recognized as the best basketball player in the world. Durant, already so good, is pushing the limits of his game, and he belongs in that discussion. But to me, LeBron still deserves the benefit of the doubt.