It started postgame after Game Two when one reporter asked (to be fair) a pretty stupid question: “How important is it for you to defend home court?” LeBron James asked if he was a “smart guy,” and then made the reporter answer his own question by asking what happens if they lose Games Three and Four in Cleveland.
Wednesday, before Game Three, a reporter asked LeBron if he is tired. He responded, bluntly, “Do I look tired? I’m averaging a triple-double in the Finals. I’m pretty good.”
“LeBron, what’s at the top of the ‘Things that Have to Go Right’ list tonight?”
LeBron isn’t in the mood. He wants to get back on the court and do the best he can to stop the bleeding. Of course, being down 0-2 isn’t a position new to him. The Golden State Warriors had the Cavs down 0-2 in the 2016 NBA Finals after two double-digit wins. The Cavs answered in Cleveland with a 120-90 smackdown.
“It’s something I am accustomed to,” said James. “It’s something that I feel like is—that it’s okay for me to kind of always go back and know that I can refocus. I can get my guys ready, get myself ready. But you hate to continue to put yourself in these positions, but at the end of the day it’s still just basketball, man, and that’s what gives me comfort, and I’m more comfortable about it because it’s just a game. I prepare myself, I’m going to go out and do my job and live with the results.”
Of course, the massive difference between this season and last is a man named Kevin Durant. As teammate Draymond Green said best, KD is a force to be reckoned with.
“I think KD is like a ‘create a player,’ if you go and create this player, and you can do everything you want to do, you’re going to probably create Kevin Durant,” said Green.
Some in the NBA world seem to think that Durant may be contesting LeBron for the title of The King. Paul Pierce noted that KD “may be the best player in the world today.”
While Durant is averaging 35.5 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists over the first two Finals Games, I think that’s a difficult assertion to make. LeBron is coming off his eight NBA Finals triple-double, and he is currently averaging 28.5 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists in these 2017 Finals.
Sure, Durant has more points, but I don’t think people are ready to support his status as No. 1 in the world for the next few seasons, although he is a close second. If Durant had stuck with the Oklahoma City Thunder, brought them to the NBA Finals, and sprung out to a quick 2-0 lead over the Cavs, things would be different.
Durant’s offseason decision to join the Warriors and win an easy ring makes it tough to argue that he deserves the title of World’s Best.
If there was any doubt that James was the best player in the world before he rejoined the Cavaliers in 2014, he proved himself immediately by taking a 20-win Cleveland squad to an NBA Finals in 2015 and bringing home the Larry O’Brien in 2016.
Durant can win each of the next five seasons, but as long as James is putting up decent numbers, it’ll be impossible to convince, at least me, that the best of a team full of superstars is better than a man carrying the team (and the Eastern Conference) on his back.