With Kevin Durant moving to the forefront of the NBA MVP race and playing at levels rarely seen throughout the history of the Association, the comparisons are inevitable.
After all, LeBron James has been the gold standard of basketball for a few years now, so he's the natural measuring stick for Durant. To take over the throne, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar needs to move King James out of it.
But there comes a time when it's just too much.
For Durant, we've reached that point. And then some. With the media seemingly unable to discuss one without the other, K.D. finally used a press conference in New Orleans to speak on the issue:
How sick is Kevin Durant of bring compared to LeBron, on scale of 1 to 10? "About a 25."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 14, 2014
Durant says he wishes people would stop comparing him to LeBron and just appreciate both of them— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 14, 2014
Was he done? Definitely not.
If you recall, LeBron revealed that he was following his fellow superstar's stats during the Durantula's ridiculous scoring tear earlier in the 2013-14 campaign. He even told the world he had a Durant app on his phone, solely for the purposes of keeping up to date.
Last year, K.D. claimed that he looked at box scores to see LeBron's numbers during an interview with Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins (h/t Ben Golliver), but he's not so willing to admit that anymore:
Durant calls it flattering that LeBron knows his statistics. But says he is just focusing on his own games.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 14, 2014
When I asked him if he was following LeBron's numbers, Durant says: "You work in Miami?" Then gives a measured answer.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 14, 2014
Here, I'll fill him in.
Heading into the All-Star game, LeBron is averaging 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game while shooting 57.1 percent from the field. And highlighted by his game-winning triple in a battle against the Golden State Warriors, he's been on quite a run lately, one that has made the MVP race back into, well, a race.
Fortunately, Durant at least recognizes the continuous growth from his biggest individual rival:
Great stuff from Kevin Durant today. "You should really focus on how good LeBron James is and the growth that I’ve had as a player… (conti)"— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) February 14, 2014
DURANT on LeBron: "I read a good book. It’s called the Bible and it says iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) February 14, 2014
Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry had a take of his own, one that he revealed after breaking down Durant's dominance from the outside and LeBron's inability to be tamed on the inside:
Still, when we get caught up debating who is better, we end up trying to diminish one of these two amazing basketball players, and that’s a shame. And while it’s tempting to say things like, “Durant has surpassed James,” the truth is that neither of these guys care about those “hot” wintertime takes, and perhaps we shouldn’t either.
Comparing them is fine, but there are a few twists that make doing so rather unacceptable.
One, as Goldsberry mentions, is feeling a need to diminish the greatness of one in order to highlight the excellence of the other. The other is making the comparison so excessively that it just gets old and tired.
Heading into the All-Star break, it's understandable if Durant feels we've reached that point.