The picture hangs on the wall outside the entrance of the Warriors’ practice facility, giving Kevin Durant a visual reminder everyday about a career-defining moment that has left him feeling inspired. Durant remains hoisted in the air mere seconds before launching a 3-point shot that bore significance, both literally and figuratively. The literal: Durant made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 45.3 seconds remaining that secured the Warriors a Game 3 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals. Though the Warriors did not officially win their second NBA title in three years until winning Game 5, Durant’s shot arguably clinched the series considering the Warriors then cemented a 3-0 lead that no team has ever squandered in NBA history. The figurative: Durant made the shot over Cavaliers forward LeBron James, a man that has served as Durant’s idol, competitor and mentor all in varying stages of his life. Since then, Durant told GQ in November that he viewed that moment as James “passing the torch to me.” Durant clarified this week what that play meant. “I saw a lot of people took that out of context: What I’m saying is when somebody passes the torch, they’re letting you in the room,” Durant said. “You got LeBron. You got [Dwyane Wade]. You got [Carmelo Anthony]. You got Paul Pierce. You got Larry Bird. You got Dr. J all in a room. It’s my turn to be in there with them and enjoy being one of the best players in the world. It wasn’t the fact that I took it from LeBron and he’s gone now. Obviously he’s still around.” Yes, he is. The Warriors (26-7) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (24-9) in a nationally televised Christmas Day game on Monday with the 32-year-old James ranking among the league’s highest in his 15th NBA year in season averages, including third in points (28.4), seventh in field-goal percentage (57%) second in assists (9.2 ) and second in minutes played (37.3).
Durant: “I’m on the same level” as LeBron
San Jose Mercury News | Dec 26