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Saturday, December 16, 2017

LeBron James: Kevin Durant will feel pressure to win title after I retire

LeBron James Kevin Durant

The confidence from LeBron James appears to be at an all-time high right about now.

James recently said in an interview that the NBA Mount Rushmore will have to make room for him, meaning he’ll be one of the top four players ever. He has also made it very clear that he has no plans to stop winning championships any time soon.

James’ Miami Heat squad has reached three NBA Finals in a row and won back-to-back titles. They’re going for three in a row this season, though they’re still far away from LeBron’s not six, not seven … prediction. But James seems to think they’re going to get there.

How do we know?

Bleacher Report’s Ethan J. Skolnick asked LeBron about when the pressure to win a championship begins to shift to Kevin Durant, who is widely considered to be the best or second-best player in the league next to James. Durant is 25 and has reached the finals once, though he has yet to win a title. James was asked when the pressure to win a championship will shift to Durant.

“When I retire,” James told Skolnick. “When I retire. They’re still talking about, am I going to win a third? You know…”

LeBron didn’t mean that as a slight to Durant and he clarified.

“But I think, for him, obviously he’s an unbelievable player,” James said. “And I’m one of the guys that just don’t, I don’t believe that winning a championship defines your career, you know. There’s so many greats that never won, and it’s unfortunate that they didn’t.”

James said he hopes Durant doesn’t have to go through what he did. LeBron didn’t win a championship for his first eight seasons in the league before winning two in a row. He was just crushed by fans and pundits, and it really affected his personality and confidence. We hope Durant doesn’t have to go through it either.

LeBron is only 29. Though he has been in the league since he was a teenager and played over 950 career games including the playoffs, we don’t see him retiring any time soon. Maybe Durant will sneak in a title in the next few years, but this is still LeBron’s time. It’s unfortunate for Durant’s legacy that he has to compete with James for titles, but that’s the way it goes. Think about all the greats who never won a title because Michael Jordan stole them all. Patrick Ewing, John Stockton and Karl Malone never won rings because MJ was building his legacy. Hakeem never would have won a ring if MJ didn’t step away.

Most will still recognize Durant as a great player regardless of what happens. I think the fact that Durant has avoided a lot of criticism for not winning a title so far speaks about our expectations for LeBron more than anything else; James is expected to win. Durant winning would mean he overachieved and knocked off the best player.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

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