When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard a few weeks ago, it wasn’t totally shocking. There had been rumors for a long time that Howard would eventually end up wearing purple and gold like so many all-time great centers before him.
The more surprising news on the Lakers front was Steve Nash deciding he wanted to play with what were once his biggest rivals.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t surprised at all.
“Kobe called that a month before it happened,” Kevin Durant told Yahoo! Sports. “I didn’t believe him. He was just like, ‘We are going to have Dwight. We are going to have Steve Nash.’ He just talks a lot of trash, jokes and laughs. But he said it. I don’t think anyone paid attention to it but me and him. He said it and it happened. And they got better, a lot better.”
Durant went on to say that the Lakers have the best lineup in the league on paper. Chris Bosh said just about exactly the same thing a few days ago when talking about the Lakers. It seems players like Durant and Bosh wouldn’t mind the pressure of winning a title shifting to the Lakers for next season.
The pressure is off the Heat now but it is mounting on the Thunder. They have progressed incrementally in each of the last four seasons. The next step for them would be winning a title after losing in the NBA Finals last season. The Lakers acquiring Howard and Nash will take the focus off Oklahoma City.
“It was a great move for [the Lakers],” Durant said. “[Howard] is the most dominant center in the league. It’s going to make it tough on other teams. But I like that challenge. We all like that challenge in OKC. It should be fun. That’s what the Lakers do. They make big moves. That’s part of their DNA.”
If there’s anything you can take away from Durant’s recent responses to questions about Howard and the Lakers, it’s that he and the Thunder aren’t backing down. They almost seem a little annoyed that the Lakers are getting all of this attention and that people are crowning them as champs before they have even played a game.
The Lakers will surely be a better team next season but if there is one team that can match up with them the best, it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant knows that. The team knows that. And that’s why they’re excited to play the Lakers next season.