Nearly a years given that LeBron James and Kevin Durant had their first meeting in the NBA Finals, the super stars are arguably still the league’s two best players. With James going back to lead the safeguarding champ Los Angeles Lakers and Durant playing his very first season for a packed Brooklyn Nets’ group, there’s a real opportunity they’ll go head-to-head for the title this summer season.

The Lakers are the prohibitive favorites simply 2 months after James won the fourth ring of his NBA profession. Durant owns 2 rings, and his streak of 3 straight Finals looks was snapped in 2020 as he missed out on all of the season with a torn Achilles.

James is in the Finals almost every year, making appearances with three different groups in 9 of the last 10 seasons. Brooklyn might become the third franchise Durant has actually resulted in the Finals.

James won his very first title when his Miami Heat beat Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals. It was the very first of 3 champions James would win over a five-season stretch, while Durant would have to wait longer before lastly reaching the peak of the sport.

Durant left Oklahoma City to sign up with the Golden State Warriors in 2016, creating a seismic shift in the NBA landscape. The Warriors had actually simply lost to James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals after winning a record 73 regular-season games. Including Durant to a roster that currently includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green made Golden State virtually unequalled.

The Warriors had the most dominant run in NBA playoff history, going 16-1 en path to winning the 2017 title. Durant won the NBA Finals MVP award and repeated the accomplishment the following season. Golden State lost to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Finals as injuries limited Durant to simply 12 minutes in the whole series.

James was on the losing end of the Finals in both 2017 and 2018, losing against Durant’s Warriors with an overmatched Cavaliers’ group. It was not a surprise that he bolted Cleveland for Los Angeles 2 years ago after dragging the Cavs’ through the East playoffs.

By leading the Lakers past the Miami Heat in the Finals in the NBA’s bubble, James took one step better towards going beyond Michael Jordan as the greatest of perpetuity. Jordan ended his career with 6 rings and a perfect 6-0 record in the Finals. James is 4-6 in the Finals, though more championships could be on the horizon.

In his 17th NBA season, James proved he was still the league’s top star. James finished second in the 2020 MVP voting prior to balancing 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.8 helps per video game in the postseason.

The 2014 San Antonio Spurs, 2015 Warriors and 2019 Raptors are the only championship teams in the last nine years that didn’t function James or Durant.

LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to Kevin Durant # 35 of the Golden State Warriors throughout a timeout in the very first half at Staples Center on April 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Image: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images