LeBron James is inspired to get better by Kevin Durant.
When the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder met in the 2012 NBA Finals many compared the match up of Durant and James to the duels of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. James has been called an athletic version of Johnson and Durant recently honored Bird by stating that he would like to imitate Bird’s playing style. In a Sunday conversation with ESPN James lamented to how he views Durant as the “one player who is the most hot on his heels.”
The two players trained together last year during the lockout and again during James’ short offseason. Ironically the two are friends off the court similar to Bird and Johnson. James also mentioned how Durant inspires him in his ‘Sportsman of the Year’ Sports Illustrated interview.
” “I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot,” James said in SI. “And I know where he is, too. He’s in Oklahoma. He’s my inspiration because I see the direction he’s headed, and it’s the same direction I’m headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It’s a collision course. We’re driving one another.”
Durant was vocal about their friendship and rivalry after James’ SI interview.
” 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.”