The NBA All-Star Game is a time to ponder the hypothetical: What if the best players in the world got together and collectively decided not to play any defense? What if Carmelo Anthony actually had decent teammates?
Who would win a one-on-one battle between these two basketball titans? To nobody's surprise, James chose himself in an interview with NBA.com's David Aldridge:
I seriously doubt any NBA player would hesitate to choose himself in a one-on-one matchup against anyone; after all, supreme confidence is the hallmark of any professional athlete, let alone a four-time MVP like James.
James did concede that it would be a difficult task, however, saying, "It's already tough enough trying to guard him...with four other guys trying to help."
Regardless of who would win in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup, Durant might be on the verge of overcoming James in the most crucial individual contest of the year: the race for the 2013-14 MVP award.
James certainly seems to have Durant on the brain quite a bit recently. Per the Associated Press' Brian Mahoney, James' teammate, Dwyane Wade believes the reigning MVP has spent years pondering Durant's arrival as a legitimate challenger: "LeBron for a few years has known Kevin Durant has been coming as a player."
Likewise, Durant is also interested in testing himself against James, as he revealed in a sideline interview with TNT's Craig Sager.
Per Turner Sports' PR department:
Durant on Sunday's ASG: "I want to play 1-on-1 w/ somebody on Sun...we’ll see how that goes.” Sager: “LeBron?” Durant: “Probably, yeah.”— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) February 15, 2014
So who has the advantage this season? Mahoney believes Durant has caught up with James in terms of his all-around game:
James has been considered the game's best player for a while now, having moved past Kobe Bryant. Durant was the sensational scorer — he's on his way to a fourth scoring title in five years — but without the full array of skills that James possessed.
But even with his 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game, James isn't the only guy filling up every stat category. Besides his 31.5 points per game, Durant is also averaging 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
Hopefully the other eight players on the court will clear out for a few minutes on All-Star Sunday to let Durant and James settle this on the court.