NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant Wants to Be Viewed as Better Than LeBron James

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

LeBron James has held the title of "best basketball player in the world" for about seven or eight years now.

In the eyes of many, Kevin Durant has been considered the second best player alive for the last five or six seasons.

In the 2017 NBA Finals, LeBron and Durant went head-to-head. Here were the results:

-Durant -- 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 55.6 percent overall, 47.4 percent from deep, dagger 3-pointer over LeBron in Game 3, Finals MVP
-LeBron -- 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.4 steals, 56.4 percent overall, 38.7 percent from deep

In the post-Finals narrative, there was no "changing of the guard" commentary as LeBron was still considered the top dog -- which didn't (and presumably still doesn't) sit well with Durant.

From Ethan Strauss of The Athletic:

Sources say that Durant believed his besting of LeBron James in the 2017 Finals would get him hailed as the game's top player, a mantle he's craved for some time ... KD, who was "tired of being second" way back in 2013, was still stuck there reputationally, even in ultimate victory.

He was still behind LeBron in the eyes of pundits, basketball Twitter, and perhaps most importantly, at Nike, who's employed Durant longer than any team. Then, the next Finals unfolded in much the same way, with much the same result, all while Warriors fans cheered loudest for the smaller MVP's baskets.

Looking back at it, Durant must have been pretty frustrated with what Steve Kerr told ESPN's Zach Lowe after Golden State captured the 2017 title.

"LeBron's the best player in basketball. We know that," Kerr declared. Although the Warriors' head coach added, "KD is right there with him," it was clear that Durant was No. 2.

[RELATEDReal Kevin Durant is under a cloud, and Warriors need him to step out]

Fast forward to today, and you have people like ESPN's Max Kellerman say Durant might not be a Top 5 player at this point (which is beyond ridiculous). Durant hears all of this kind of stuff and it impacts him.

Now that the Durant-to-the-Knicks rumors have heated up, the 10-time All-Star hasn't spoke to reporters in over a week. He's in somewhat of a funk and it's unclear when we will hear from him again.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

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