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LeBron, Durant to renew acquaintances in preseason
MIAMI (AP) - A poll of NBA general managers released this week suggested that Kevin Durant is the overwhelming favorite to win the league’s MVP award this season.
LeBron James _ the two-time reigning MVP _ knows why.
Albeit from afar, James has followed Durant’s game closely for years. James will have a better view Friday night, when his Miami Heat match up against Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in a preseason game at Kansas City, Mo.
“You just appreciate great talent,” James said. “He’s just one of those guys, one of those kids, man, who’s just going to continue to work hard and try to be one of the greats. For me, I admire stuff like that because I know how hard it is to work. I know how hard it is to get to that level where you feel like you’re one of the superstars in this league. He’s great. He’s an unbelievable talent.”
This matchup on Friday won’t count, but if nothing else, it’ll serve as a chance for James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to laud Durant in person _ all were duly impressed with the way he led USA Basketball to a world championship this summer, giving the Americans an automatic berth in the 2012 London Olympics.
“As a fan of the game, which I always watch the game, that’s pretty cool to see _ three guys, All-Stars, coming together,” Durant said. “Of course, they’re going to be fighting for a championship. But as a player on my team, I can’t focus on them. I’ve got to worry about what I’ve got here, what we’re working towards here.”
That’s what James has been telling him to do.
They started getting to know each other when Durant was in high school, which, naturally, wasn’t all that long ago. It’s not quite a mentor-mentee relationship, but James has shared many of his experiences with Durant, knowing the Thunder star is essentially dealing with many of the same things.
“He’s great because he’s humble,” James said. “He accepts the challenge, but he’s a very humble kid. He doesn’t let it get to his head too much. He’s been probably one of the best players since he was growing up. I mean, he was the freshman player of the year at Texas. He’s gotten a lot of exposure and he knows how to handle it.”
Thanks largely to Durant’s continued emergence into superstardom, the Thunder had a breakthrough season a year ago, and figure to challenge the Los Angeles Lakers and others for the top spot in the Western Conference.
By Brahma Chellaney
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