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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Kevin Durant defends LeBron James

By Royce Young
ESPN.com

All eyes are on LeBron James after he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat, including those of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who said at the release of his new Nike shoe that he doesn't see what all the commotion is about.

"I don't know what the big deal is," Durant said during a brief Q&A session about his new KD 7 shoe, according to the Washington Post. "As a player, I think that's the best way to go about it. You can have all your options. It's better for you as a player to opt-out, because you can get a market deal. You can get more years. You never know what will happen if you pass up on that. So I didn't know what the big deal was. I'm sure it was a decision he made, something he was thinking about, for him and his family."

Kevin Durant and LeBron James
Kevin Durant says LeBron James' decision to opt is "the best way to go about it."

Durant, 25, is signed with the Thunder through 2016, but the buzz surrounding his pending free agency has already begun. Durant re-signed with the Thunder during the summer of 2010, announcing it with a tweet. The interesting part of Durant's current deal is that, unlike James', it does not include an opt-out after the fourth season, at his request.

"I've always been a loyal person," Durant said after signing his deal in 2010. "I just love this organization, what we stand for, which is family. I'm really big on that. This is the only place for me. I told everybody a couple of years back that I wanted to be a part of this organization, so I stuck with it."

There have been growing comparisons between Durant and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan because both play in small markets, and to this point, have only played for one franchise.

"I don't think it's fair," Durant said of the parallel. "I don't think anything that you guys criticize LeBron [about] is fair. He switched teams. He's not the first guy to do it. He decided to opt out. He's not the first guy to do it. Sometimes a lot of people criticize him a little bit too much for doing normal things, doing stuff that everybody has done. [Even] Tim Duncan went into free agency before. He got courted by quite a few teams. We'll see what happens with me, but everybody's done the same thing. He's not the first."

James left Cleveland after seven seasons for Miami, primarily because of the Cavaliers' failure to build a championship team around him. Durant just completed his seventh season with the Thunder and while the team has experienced an impressive run of success -- three trips to the Western Conference finals and one to the NBA Finals the last four years -- the team has yet to cap it with a title.

While James left his hometown team, there's an assumption that Durant might possibly find sentimental value in joining his, the Washington Wizards. Durant grew up in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, a town near Washington D.C.

"I've been getting a lot lately," Durant said at the shoe release. "But everybody knows I love OKC and knows that I'm under contract right now. A lot of people ask me, but I just try to stay focused on today, and I'll worry about that when I get there."