Skip to content

LeBron James: Kevin Durant will feel title pressure ‘when I retire’

Feb 13, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Miami Heat Getty Images

A statistical projection developed by John Hollinger pegs the Oklahoma City Thunder as this season’s most likely NBA champions. So does Kevin Pelton’s formula.

The Thunder of have the the league’s best record (42-12_, best player (Kevin Durant) and arguably best No. 2 once he returns (Russell Westbrook). They’ve been to the Finals before and have fallen short.

This is the exact profile of a team that should face immense pressure to win a title.

So why hasn’t Oklahoma City, which admittedly does deal with some high expectations, come under the strongest microscope?

LeBron James.

And he knows it.

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

When does he think the pressure will truly shift to Durant to take the Larry O’Brien trophy?

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

LeBron is the most analyzed athlete of all time. The best player in basketball, a sport with the most identifiable stars, he’s failed and succeeded in dramatic fashion during the internet era. Nobody before him has been put so thoroughly through the ringer on Twitter, television and hundreds of other forms of communication.

He’s won the last two NBA titles, so thoroughly capturing our attention that Durant and the Thunder don’t have a chance. The pressure on LeBron to win a title his first season in Miami was higher than on any non-defending champion ever, so it sure hasn’t gone away now that the Heat have entrenched themselves as favorites.

Not even Durant’s MVP-caliber season will change that.

However, I wonder whether Durant’s success influenced LeBron’s quote. I thought Ben Standig of CSN Washington might a wise point yesterday:

Until recently, LeBron hadn’t sought as much attention during the Heat’s championship run. But that’s changed in a hurry.

It seemed LeBron learned a less from his bluster during his first year in Miami – “Not one, not two, not three…” – and wanted to keep a, relatively, lower profile.

Now, I think he’s purposefully going out of his way to draw attention. The Heat have coasted most of the season. If they don’t kick it into gear, they won’t win a third straight title. Maybe a brighter spotlight will bring out their best effort.

The plan makes sense. Miami can’t keep going like this.

As LeBron knows, the pressure is on.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Magic will name Scott Skiles coach this week

    May 26, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT

    Scott Skiles AP

    Not the most reliable report. Not the least reliable report.

  2. Watch James Harden drop 45 on Warriors in Game 4

    May 26, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets- Game Four Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets- Game Four

    That’s three out of four games this series Harden has been fantastic.

  3. If NBA upgrades’ Dwight Howard’s blow to Bogut to a Flagrant 2, Howard will be suspended for Game 5

    May 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four Getty Images

    Based on that Al Horford precedent, Dwight Howard should have gotten a Flagrant 2 and ejected.

  4. Elimination game Josh Smith is a thing, Rockets live to play another day

    May 26, 2015, 2:29 AM EDT

    Josh Smith AP

    In the four Rockets’ elimination games this season, Smith has 63 points on 22-of-34 shooting (64.7 percent).

  5. Rockets show it’s better to have James Harden than to not have Stephen Curry

    May 25, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    MVP runner-up shines while MVP misses substantial portion of Houston’s Game 4 win

  6. NBA will not move up Finals start date; June 4 locked in for Game 1

    May 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally Getty Images

    The league had been exploring moving Game 1 up to June 2.

  7. LeBron James calls for non-violence after Brelo verdict

    May 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptfhodazn2mxnwvmm2zknmq1mdljytayytg0mtuynwi4 AP

    Cavaliers star says he will research case further before saying more

  8. Rumor: Paul Pierce might opt out of contract with Wizards, join Clippers

    May 25, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six Getty Images

    Doc Rivers decided to offer his mid-level exception money last summer to Spencer Hawes instead of Pierce. He’d like that one over.

  9. LeBron James carries load, makes enough plays in Cavaliers win (VIDEO)

    May 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three Getty Images

    LeBron finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists .

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (6732)
  2. S. Curry (5830)
  3. K. Love (5678)
  4. D. Howard (5331)
  5. L. James (4420)
  1. D. Carroll (4295)
  2. K. Bryant (3711)
  3. P. Beverley (3603)
  4. K. Korver (3573)
  5. K. Durant (3563)