CLEVELAND — LeBron James has no problem with the already stacked Warriors’ signing of Kevin Durant last summer, even it means they’re the team to beat for the foreseeable future.
“You have an opportunity to sign one of the best players and you can do it, go ahead and do it,” James said after practice Thursday. “If I become an owner, I’m going to try to sign everybody.”
Although James loves challenges, there probably is a part of him that wishes the Warriors didn’t have Durant. He’s been the difference-maker in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors are up 3-0 and have a chance to sweep Cleveland on Friday night. If Durant still were with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavaliers might be leading this series and in position to repeat as champions.
Of course, it would be somewhat hypocritical of James if he complained about the Warriors forming a super team. In 2010, James left Cleveland to sign with the Heat, teaming with fellow free agent Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who already was with Miami. They won four Eastern Conference championships and two NBA titles.
Then, in the summer of 2014, James returned to Cleveland to play with Kyrie Irving, and All-Star Kevin Love subsequently joined them in a trade. They’ve been to three straight NBA Finals and won last year.
James said he and Durant have taken different paths, though. In both cases for James, the teams he joined were building something and the rosters underwent huge turnover.
Durant came to a team that already was established. The Warriors went to back-to-back NBA Finals without him, winning a record 73 games in the regular season a year ago, and won a championship with its core players coming from the draft: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
With the addition of Durant, the Warriors look as if they have something more sustainable than what James had in Miami and has in Cleveland. The Warriors, who can become the first NBA team to go through a postseason without a loss, look as if they can create a dynasty.
“I think it’s just part of my calling to go against teams in the midst of a dynasty,” James said. “This has been the best in our league the past three years. There have been times throughout my career where I just played teams that were in the midst of something that can last for a long time. Obviously, this team is built to be able to do that with the talent that they have.”
The Cavaliers could stand pat this summer and still be the Eastern Conference’s best team, particularly because of James. He’s going to want them to make moves to bridge the gap between them and the Warriors — they need a long, athletic wing player who can guard multiple positions — but the Cavs’ hands may be tied.
The Warriors have too many weapons and have shown it during this series and this entire postseason. It could mean James will continue to take some lumps, but he wouldn’t say it’s unfair or bad for the league.
“Is it fair? I don’t care,” he said. “I think it’s great. It’s great for our league. Look at our TV ratings, looking at the money our league is pouring in. Guys are loving the game. Our fans love the game. Who am I to say if it’s fair or not?
“No matter who I’m going against, if I’m going against four Hall of Famers or I’m going against two or whatever the case may be, I’m always excited to play the game. And I’m not going to judge and say if it’s fair or not if guys are adding players to their team.”