If James never went to Miami and formed a Big Three with Bosh and Dwyane Wade during the 2010 offseason, Bosh reasoned, Durant would never have left the Oklahoma City Thunder to bolster the Golden State Warriors superteam in 2016.
"That put pressure on him," Bosh said.
Only one person knows for sure if James motivated the move to Golden State, but the aftermath has worked in Durant's favor. He's won back-to-back championships since joining the Warriors and was named Finals MVP both years.
Bosh, 34, will officially hang up the sneakers when the Heat retire his No. 1 jersey during a March 26 halftime ceremony. He hasn't appeared in an NBA game since the 2015-16 season and was forced into an early exit by life-threatening blood clots. More from Haberstroh:
"If Bosh’s blood clots hadn’t forced him out of the league, he could’ve entered this summer as a free agent, alongside the likes of Durant, [Kyrie] Irving, [Kawhi] Leonard and [Jimmy] Butler—the same players he unknowingly helped all those years ago. It’s a fact that has haunted him to this day.
"It still hurts, but Bosh isn’t afraid to talk about that now. This is about being himself.
"'I’m happy for the guys,' Bosh says. 'I’m happy to look back and even if people don’t know, to say, hey, you know what, I had a little bit to do with changing the league.'"
Prior to joining the Heat in 2010, Bosh spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career as the No. 1 option for the Toronto Raptors. However, even as he made five consecutive All-Star appearances, they only cobbled together one winning season and two playoff appearances during his Toronto tenure.
Perhaps tired of individual merit not leading to greater team success, Bosh opted to join James and Wade in Miami, where they appeared in four consecutive NBA Finals. Durant's time in Oklahoma City might have given him the same motivation.
That said, Durant got much closer to a title with the Thunder than Bosh did as a Raptor; OKC lost in the 2012 NBA Finals to the Big Three-era Heat and fell in the 2016 Western Conference Finals to Golden State.
But he couldn't beat the Warriors, so he joined them.
James has undoubtedly empowered other players to take their futures into their own hands, given the way he has gone about free agency and structured his contracts.
Durant is far from the only star to follow the blueprint. New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis—through his agent—publicly demanded a trade in January because he wanted a chance to "win consistently and compete for a championship," per ESPN.
However, Bosh's comments are particularly interesting as Durant is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Now that he's been there and done that with the whole superteam and winning championships thing, the 30-year-old disclosed his upcoming motivations to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes (hint: they're green):
The 2019 free agency class as a whole has the potential to shift the NBA landscape, but that power dates back to when James made his first free-agent decision in 2010.