Game 7: Kevin Durant Has to Be Rooting for LeBron James to Win

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Game 7: Kevin Durant Has to Be Rooting for LeBron James to Win
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kevin Durant must have watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final with a sheepish grin. 

After putting Oklahoma City on his back for much of the West final, Durant had to see the display by LeBron James in Game 6 of the East final—45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists—and realize James wasn't just sending a message to his Heat teammates, the Celtics and the exuberant Boston crowd.

No, LeBron's game effort in Game 6 was a clear message to Durant. That's certainly how Durant should have taken it.

LEBRON: Anything you can do I can do better

... I can do anything better than you

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can, yes, I can

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Now, Miami still has to win Game 7 to jettison the Celtics and set up the NBA's dream final. Despite the absolute blowout in Game 6, the series is not over. Having said that, it sure feels like the NBA's two brightest stars are aligning, set to cross paths in the NBA Finals.

Durant, comfortably waiting for the team of superstars that will join OKC in this season's seven-round title bout, had to watch what LeBron did on Thursday night—to the best defense in the league—and just smile. 

Challenge accepted.

DURANT: Anything you can be I can be greater

... Sooner or later I'm greater than you

LEBRON: No, you're not

DURANT: Yes, I am

LEBRON: No, you're not

DURANT: Yes, I am

LEBRON: No, you're not

DURANT: Yes, I am, yes I am

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In this year's shortened regular season, all Durant did was lead the league in scoring for the third straight year. All James did this season was win his third career MVP award. 

People may have picked Oklahoma City to make it to the NBA Finals, but with the depth of talent in the West, nobody expected OKC to walk through the West like everyone has expected LeBron and the Heat to do, especially after the Bulls were decimated by injuries and knocked out in the first round.

LeBron has more pressure on him to win the NBA title this year than any player maybe in the history of the game, and night after night, game after game, he keeps showing up.

James didn't just put up MVP numbers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final; he did it in an elimination game, on the road, against a superb defensive team. James shot 73 percent from the field against a defense that has held opponents near 42 percent all season. They weren't layups, either. LeBron was hitting shots from every spot—and every ridiculous angle—on the floor. 

It was incredible. Durant had to take notice. If he didn't already, now Durant has to want James in the NBA Finals.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

First, outside of Game 6, the Celtics have been playing stifling defense throughout the NBA playoffs. Nothing comes easy against Boston, and while the Heat certainly are a formidable defense in their own right, there are times when teams can take advantage of mental lapses or breaks in effort from Miami. There will be pockets for Durant and Russell Westbrook to roam against Miami.

That may not happen against a stingy defense like Boston. 

Second, Durant has to see the opportunity to win his first NBA title before James by beating James and salivate at the opportunity to plant his flag as the planet's best player. Make no mistake, if the Heat get to the NBA Finals, the narrative will be that the winner of the trophy will also take with him the title of World's Best Player.

DURANT: Any points you can score I can go higher

LEBRON: I can score many points higher than you

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Oh, it may not be fair to put that kind of pressure on Durant and James, what with a host of world-class players filling out both of their respective rosters, but that will be the narrative should the Heat make the NBA Finals.

The guy who ends up with the trophy will be the true king of the NBA for the next year, and maybe for quite some time in the future.

With Durant already securing his spot in the fight, he has to want LeBron to be there with him. He needs LeBron there with him.

DURANT: Anything you can win I can win faster

LEBRON: I can win anything faster than you

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can

DURANT: No, you can't

LEBRON: Yes, I can, yes, I can 

Can he? The Heat still needs to win one more game. But it sure will be fun—for Durant, James and us—to find out. 

(If you don't know, revised lyrics via.)

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