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Kevin Durant says people want him to hate LeBron

Dec 7, 2012, 8:43 AM EDT

James of the U.S. hugs teammate Durant after their game against Lithuania at their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games Reuters

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.

  1. mr9teen - Dec 7, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    I get what Durant is saying. However you don’t go at your friends as hard as you would a guy you hate. When you are playing against a guy you hate or really dislike you might be willing to cross a line that you wouldn’t with someone who is your friend. I don’t want them to hate each other though. I think the friendship bring a familiarity that you don’t have in a hated rival.

    • borderline1988 - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      If you look at the Olympics, athletes train together all the time. You honestly think someone who trains all by himself and doesn’t get along with anybody is going to perform better?

      The disliking the opponent thing is all symantics. For every HOF that sneered at his opponents, there’s another one who had no problem hanging out with an opponent during the off-season.

      Lebron went pretty hard against the Thunder in the playoffs last year, and has a championship to show for it.
      How about Danny Granger? He really disliked Lebron and the Heat, and look how well he played in that series last year. It means nothing.

    • kingfatooty - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      Ya I’m glad Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning weren’t buddy buddy. Would have missed out on a couple fights and the most intense basketball I have witnessed. Lets just all be friends! NOT. Rather have something like a heat knicks rivalry in the late 90’s, right now in the early 2012s and so on. I care, but I don’t really care. I just wanna see more intense rivalry’s. They’re on opposite ends of the NBA, but I still dont care, really.

  2. playin2x - Dec 7, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Why would people make a big deal of this ? Secondly he is correct playing against my friends I am more determined to win vs the random group of guys who meet up at the local gym and play ..

    • moseskkim - Dec 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Its not a big deal.. It’s a simple article out of 5 a day. I personally think its how much u want what it is u want and how hard u work for it. Lebron worked his butt off to get where he’s at and ain’t no one friend, enemy, family gonna make him go after it any less. So it doesn’t matter whether they’re friends or not. I think it’s cool. Regardless if they want the championship and whatever personal goals bad enough, nothing else matters and nothing will stop them. And their respect and recognition of one another’s talents adds extra motivation to get better.

  3. fanofevilempire - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Durantula………….. is that his nickname???

    kid got mad game, he will win him some trophies.
    relax and let it ALL come to you like LeBron………
    LeBron is NOW truly a KING!!!
    he does not need to HATE anyone………
    and he can have friends, these guys want to BEAT EACH OTHE R REAL BAD…………………….THEY LIKE THE SWAG………

    YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. loungefly74 - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    why would anyone care if those two are buds? not a big deal…yeah, it makes for a greater media sensation if they publicly admitted hating each other but its not the case…

  5. acdc363 - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Another slow day for PBT

  6. eventhorizon04 - Dec 7, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Meh. This topic has been beaten to death.
    Basically, this is only an issue if you believe there’s evidence that these guys “take it easy on each other” in games. As fans, we would have the right to be annoyed if, for example, LeBron only half-heartedly guarded Durant, or if Durant passed up open shots because he wanted his friend to win.

    I don’t see it. If you watched the Finals, you saw Durant and LeBron go RIGHT at each other when one was defending each other. Durant shot a scorching 55+% from the field and hit a couple of dagger threes over LeBron. LeBron averaged a double-double and outfought Durant for rebounds. Oh, and both guys averaged around 30 points per game. I don’t think a single Heat fan felt Durant was doing Lebron any favors, and I don’t think a single OKC fan felt LeBron was doing Durant any favors.

    And we all remember LeBron’s reaction to winning, and Durant’s reaction to losing.

    I see NO evidence that either guy was “taking it easy” on the other because they were friends, so I have no issue with it. If they’re fierce competitors on-the-court, I don’t care if they’re best friends off the court.

  7. eshine76 - Dec 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    If I’m an OKC fan, I want Durant training with the game’s best player. That’s how he’s going to continue to improve his game. Durant is already one of the top talents in the game; how many other players out them can legitimately challenge him day-in and day-out?

    As for friends or enemies, I used to play 2 on 2 almost nightly with 3 of my best friends, first to 100. I can tell you that when the score was 92 – 90, friendship went out the window. We wanted to win, and some nights it got ugly. If you have the will to win, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. Besides, I bet these guy love having bragging rights.

  8. kingfatooty - Dec 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Ya whatever. I don’t like it. I’d rather see the drama but so what.

  9. 13arod - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    not a big deal you should be friends with people you play with

  10. jimeejohnson - Dec 7, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Say no more.

  11. reupjosh - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Soft clap for PBT… The feel good story of the year.

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