CLEVELAND -- Kevin Durant might have joined the Golden State Warriors with a degree of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" behind his decision, but LeBron James doesn't have any problem with it -- even it costs him a shot at a fourth ring this year. In fact, he said if he were an NBA owner -- which he aspires to be someday -- he would try to acquire all the talent he could, no matter if the league's competitive balance would be thrown off.
"Is it fair? I don't care," James said Thursday, the day after the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind 3-0 in the Finals to Durant and the Warriors. "I mean, I think it's great. It's great for our league. Right now, look at our TV ratings, look at the money our league is pouring in. I mean, guys are loving the game, our fans love the game.
"I mean, 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, like I said before the series started with Draymond (Green), Klay (Thompson), Steph (Curry), and K.D., or if I'm going against two or whatever the case may be, I'm always excited to play the game.
"And I'm not one to judge and say if it's fair or not if guys are adding players to their team. So that's what you want to do. Is it fair that the New York Yankees in the '90s was adding piece after piece after piece after piece? I mean, if you have the opportunity to do that -- is it fair that the (Dallas) Cowboys added Deion Sanders? I mean, listen. It happens. It's sports. You have an opportunity to sign one of the best players, and you can do it, go ahead and do it. Why not? If I become an owner, I'm going to try to sign everybody."
James ushered in a new era of super teams in the NBA in the summer of 2010 when he left Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat. It was viewed as an unprecedented collaboration among superstars to line up their free agency years in advance to eventually join forces. The Heat went to four straight Finals and won two championships, including one over Durant and his former team in the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck that James' free agency "paved the way" for him to leave the Thunder last summer to join Golden State after the Warriors beat Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.
James was quick to credit Durant, saying he's "always been proud" of the 6-foot-9 forward with the silky stroke, but made a clear delineation between his career arc and Durant's.
"I don't think that our careers are the same as far as changing teams," James said. "Their team was already kind of put together, and you just implement a guy that's ready to sacrifice, a great talent, a guy that's willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. But that team, they knew what they were about. He just had to come in and just do what he had to do. And that's what he been doing."
James viewed Durant's addition as an augmentation for the Warriors while his beginning with the Heat involved a total makeover.
"When I left here to go to Miami, we had to build something," James said. "We brought in eight or nine guys, and we had to build something. And when I came back here (to Cleveland), we built something again. But I can definitely appreciate the simple fact of him either reshaping his game or just sacrificing maybe some shots here, sacrificing having the ball in his hands all the time. But it works for their team. I mean, who wouldn't want to sacrifice playing on a Golden State team or a San Antonio team or a Cleveland team when you know the ultimate result is you can actually compete for a championship."
Whereas Miami had to plan for years to have the cap space to sign James, Wade and Bosh in the same summer, Golden State suddenly found itself able to afford Durant because the salary cap spiked from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94 million in 2016-17 because of the league's new national television deal. Thus a 73-win team added a former league MVP.
"By just getting rid of a couple pieces in Harrison Barnes and not re-signing (Leandro) Barbosa and (Andrew) Bogut and guys from last year's team ... that allowed them to go do that," James said of signing Durant. "My case, going to Miami ... it was a different situation. Totally different. Totally different."
Now James finds himself in the same situation that much of the league was in when he was in Miami with two other Hall of Famers in their prime in Wade and Bosh in feeling behind the eight ball because Golden State is set up for long-term success.
"Well, I think it's just part of my calling to just go against teams in the midst of a dynasty," James said. "This has been the best team in our league the last three years. They won a championship, and last year it was the greatest regular-season team we had played, probably one of the best postseason teams that everybody's ever seen as well, but we were just able to overcome that. And they're playing like one of the best teams once again. So like I said, there have been times throughout my career where I just played teams that were just in the midst of something that can last for a long time. And obviously this team is built to be able to do that with the talent that they have. So we'll see what happens. Obviously you never know what's going to happen, but as it stands right now, they look pretty good, as far as the future."