LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been the two consensus best basketball players in the world for more than half a decade, and LeBron is less than four years older than Durant. Still, Durant says he idolizes James, the player who has often overshadowed him through the years.
Durant told GQ's Zach Baron, whose profile of Durant is a worthwhile read, that hitting the game-winning three pointer over James in Game 3 of the 2017 finals was the best moment of his basketball life.
"That was the best moment I ever had,” Durant told Baron. “I made the game-winning shot in the finals against my f---ing idol. Somebody that I really, really, really followed since I was a ninth-grade high schooler. I felt like he was passing the torch to me.”
When Durant was a freshman in high school, James was a senior at St. Vincent/St. Mary's in Ohio. James already had a national profile—a certain magazine put him on the cover and anointed him "CHOSEN ONE" when he was just a junior—and many of his games were televised nationally on ESPN, which would explain how Durant followed him before James' NBA debut.
As far as passing the torch goes, LeBron is still playing like the best player in the world, and any torch-passing would be involuntary on James' part. But it's interesting to hear Durant speak about LeBron with such respect and admiration, given that both players are future Hall of Famers who've been going at each other for years. It sure looked like the respect was mutual when the two embraced after Durant won his first title in June.
Durant will have another chance to play his idol—and perhaps wrestle the torch from his grasp just a bit more—on Christmas Day, when the Cavs play at the Warriors.