The Thunder and Heat were many folks' preseason picks to represent their respective conferences in the NBA Finals, and their nationally televised game on Wednesday night reminded everybody why it's a commissioner's dream matchup; not because of the lopsided 112-95 final score, but because of the back-and-forth between the two greatest players in the world.
In a third-quarter sequence Kevin Durant described as "Rucker Park," he and fellow megastar LeBron James went at each other in the kind of one-on-one battle that freezes time, even on a cold, regular-season night in January. As Oklahoma City began to pull away late in the third quarter, James took it upon himself to push his team back into the game. The only problem (or blessing, depending on who's watching) was the scorching-hot Durant had zero interest in giving him any extra rope.
Here are the full highlights, but the duel begins right before the 7-minute mark of this video.
James outscored Durant, 34-33, though the Thunder took the dominating victory on the road in Miami. But for a moment, the final tally on the scoreboard didn't matter. That playground-style of ball is what any basketball fan loves to watch. It's what so many attempt in their backyard against their buddies, but so few are able to recreate: the two best players in the world in the middle of their primes going right at one another.
The Finals last June featured as unbelievable a spectacle as basketball can provide. But if the pieces fall in place and give the world Thunder vs. Heat and Durant vs. James, then we'll once again be watching history in the making and another chance for 'The King' to defend his crown. But really, at the core of it all, there's nothing like Rucker Park brought to life on the NBA's biggest stage.