While the rest of the basketball world tries to stifle the constant updates on Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant just wants to get away from LeBron James. Durant, who just three weeks ago stood in the same arena with LeBron while the Miami Heat celebrated winning the NBA Championship, now plays on Team USA with James and has said he's not totally comfortable with it.
It's tough to lose in the finals and play the guy you've been up against for five games who beat you, Durant told ESPN. This is bigger than that. So me, I'm just going to get over it, still be a great teammate, come out and play hard.
In a refreshing bit of honesty from an athlete, Durant also said seeing James every day gets under his skin.
It does. It does, but what can I do? He's my teammate now. I'm a team player.
James admitted if he was in Durant or fellow Thunder player Russell Westbrook's shoes it the constant reminder would bother him too. James was named the MVP of the finals en route to redeeming himself from the baggage that's followed him from Cleveland to Miami after The Decision.
This is Durant's first time competing in the Olympics while James helped Team USA dominate their way to a gold medal in 2008. It's a refreshing change of pace for NBA fans who have been browbeaten with constant updates on where Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard wants to play next season.
The ego Howard has shown is a stark contrast to that of the two Olympians, who have managed to put their differences aside and leave it on the court. All the reports out of Team USA practice point to the fierce competitors working together on the court. Last summer James reportedly invited Durant to work out with him in Ohio, according to The Courier-Journal.
It's not the first time Durant has had to swallow his pride. In 2008 he was one of the final cuts from the Olympic roster.
That seems like 20 years ago, almost, Durant said. I've grown so much as a player in this league. I thought I was going to make it [in 2008]. I had plans on making it... It was just a matter of me learning from it and moving on.
Americans all over the country will be rooting for the pairing to work out when the Olympics start later this month.