Warriors

LeBron shows Dubs dynasty peak respect when asked about Nets

Warriors
Warriors vs. Cavaliers in 2018 NBA Finals

LeBron James answered a question about the Brooklyn Nets Big 3's place in basketball history with one of his own.

"Have we forgot about KD, Steph and Klay already?" James asked Tuesday night in a postgame video conference, when ESPN's Dave McMenamin asked where Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving stood among the NBA teams with the most offensive firepower.

James won't forget Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson's three seasons with the Warriors anytime soon, considering they beat his Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back NBA Finals and in 2017 and 2018. They were the trio that ruined basketball, at least according to their most vocal critics.

Curry was a few months removed from becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history when Durant, widely considered to be the heir to James' throne at the time, joined the Splash Brothers, arguably the two greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history, in Golden State. They led the Warriors to a 15-1 record in the 2017 playoffs, losing only to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals when James and Irving went supernova facing a sweep in Game 4.

You can look at the records, like the fact the 2018-19 Warriors have the highest offensive rating (115.9) in an 82-game season, according to Basketball-Reference, and that the '16-17 Warriors are third (115.6). James' memory is just as compelling of a case, though, considering Durant's tenure in Golden State cost him (at least) one ring.

Although the Cavaliers went 51-31 in the afterglow of upsetting the Warriors in seven games during the 2016 Finals, that team might've been LeBron's best in Cleveland. James, Irving and Kevin Love were All-Stars, and their offensive rating (113.6) was the best of James' two stints in Cleveland. The Cavs' defense wasn't championship-worthy in the regular season or playoffs, but the offense was good enough to barrel through a weak Eastern Conference.

 

If Durant's not a Warrior, James could very well have gone back-to-back. Durant running it back with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were a game away from beating the Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference finals, or joining, say, the Boston Celtics would've posed a challenge for James and the Cavaliers, but not nearly as steep of one as Durant and the Warriors ultimately provided.

If the Cavaliers go back to back, does Irving still force a trade to the Boston Celtics? The 2017-18 Cavaliers were no match for the Warriors, mostly due to Irving's departure. If the Cavaliers go back to back, do Durant and Irving end up playing together at all? Do they play together sooner, with Irving's legacy secured and an additional ring in his collection? Does Durant join them in Cleveland?

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The possibilities are fascinating to consider, as James has undoubtedly realized since losing twice to the Warriors' former Big 3. A 4-6 record in the NBA Finals that Michael Jordan's -- and, frankly, Steph Curry's -- most vocal defenders use to question James' own place in basketball history is a direct result of Durant joining Golden State.

James was a witness to Curry, Durant and Thompson's greatness and, ultimately, a victim of it.

What could better compliment could they ask for?

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