LeBron, Durant to join the Super Bowl stars in NY

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NEW YORK (AP) - Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. Richard Sherman and Wes Welker.

Oh, and don’t forget LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Football players won’t be the only sports stars in New York next weekend, even with the Super Bowl in town. Basketball’s very best are also scheduled for appearances.

Rather than get out of the way to escape the NFL’s mammoth shadow, the NBA decided to share in whatever spotlight was left. So the Knicks and Nets are home to face powerhouse opponents - games that should be hot tickets for fans who couldn’t or wouldn’t wait until Sunday.

“Knowing that the sports world was going to descend on New York City for the Super Bowl, we knew that there would be enormous demand to see the Knicks and the Nets play, so we accommodated that interest by scheduling marquee games,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder visit Brooklyn on Friday, before James and the Miami Heat travel to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to take on Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.

Three top scorers, two MVP candidates, one eager city.

Mike Breen, who will call both games on ESPN, said that “it doesn’t get much better than this for a regular season” for local fans, noting that James and Durant could go down as two of the special league’s players.

“A chance to put on a show, the weekend of the Super Bowl, in New York City, is something that you know they’re going to embrace and try and make the most of,” Breen added.

OK, so the Knicks haven’t quite lived up to their end of the bargain with their play this season to make it a real “marquee game.” But it’s always an event when James comes to “the world’s most famous arena,” where he has multiple 50-point games.

“Regardless of whether the Knicks are playing well or struggling, to this day, to a man, these players, they treasure coming to the Garden and playing at the Garden,” Breen said.

Yes, James loves the Garden. Just don’t look for him Sunday at Metlife Stadium.

“I don’t want to be here for that,” he said. “It’s going to be so crowded here and it’s probably going to be cold as heck, so I’m going back to Miami to pretty decent weather.”

The Nets have been the NBA’s hottest team since the new year, just in time to take their turn trying to slow down the sizzling Durant, a seemingly impossible task lately.

It’s a tantalizing appetizer for not only the Super Bowl but also for next February, when the NBA will have the big show in town as the Nets and Knicks co-host the league’s All-Star weekend.

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