- 3 minute read
Thursday night’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns marked the first time LeBron James and Kevin Durant shared the court in a regular season game since Christmas Day of 2018. And both legends put on a show for all the fans who got to watch.
Durant finished with 39 points and 11 rebounds while LeBron scored 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, including a pair of late-game layups to put the Lakers ahead for good in their 100-95 victory. As two of the greatest forwards ever, LeBron and Durant have had many battles throughout the years, but the respect between the two is very high.
Durant spoke on this after the game, saying that LeBron is the player everyone measures themselves against. “After my games a lot, my whole career you see what he did, watch the highlights,” Durant said. “When I was in high school we got close when I was a senior in high school and he was third or fourth year in the league and he was dominating and somebody that inspired me as I was coming into college, into the league to want to play at that level.
“Somebody you just compare yourself to and if you can accomplish and achieve some of the stuff that he’s done that means you’re doing pretty solid for yourself. He’s just a baseline for you as a player to see how great you can be. He set that example for everybody in the league.”
There is always that one player who is the true measuring stick of a generation. Kobe Bryant once held that mantle as did Michael Jordan before him, but now it is LeBron James who is the player everyone is striving to be and Durant has been doing so his whole career.
In this particular game against the Lakers, however, Durant was reminded of LeBron’s savant-level basketball IQ and how difficult it is to deal with.
“It was tough,” Durant added. “He was pretty much coaching the team on how to guard certain actions and that’s what he’s been doing his whole career. Film study is one of the things that he’s locked in on as he’s gotten older as a player.
“As he’s won championships he’s learned how to watch film and dissect the film and you can just see that and hear that in his talk throughout the whole game. It’s always a battle playing against high IQ players like that.”
There are so many ways to impact the game and even in his 21st season, LeBron’s knowledge of everything that is going on is unlike any other player the league has to offer. The Lakers are now the beneficiary and it helped get them a much-needed victory.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham discusses LeBron James’ 35 minutes vs. Suns
It was also worth noting that LeBron James’ minutes went up from 29 in the Lakers season opener to 35 against the Suns. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham discussed the thinking that went into that on this night.
“I mean, I think we wish we were dragging our feet there for the better part of the first half, and things weren’t clicking, weren’t making shots, especially from three,” Ham said. “He has that spirit, that intensity to put the team on his shoulders, and I had timeouts to play with. And so I went to him, I said, How are we feeling? What do we want to do? And he answered my question, and you guys saw the results.”
LeBron’s minutes are a fluid situation and will be handled game-by-game. Especially as the Lakers have struggled when he’s on the bench, Ham may have to turn to him a bit more. But hopefully they are able to remedy that as the season goes on.