When the final buzzer sounded, long after the Thunder had waved the white flag in Thursday’s Game 5 clincher in the NBA Finals, series MVP LeBron James sought out Thunder star Kevin Durant, wrapped his arm around Durant’s neck and offered a pep talk. He told Durant he was proud of him, proud of Durant’s continuing emergence as an NBA star.
James probably was the perfect person to offer that chat—on one hand, having twice lost in the Finals, James knows the sting of being close to a championship and falling short, and on the other hand, James knows that when it comes to personal rivals, Durant is the only player in the league within a stone’s throw of him.
Durant and James worked out together for a few days in Akron, Ohio, in the offseason, the two best players in the league pushing each other to be just a little better. Seeing them on this...