Kevin Durant came into the NBA with the weight of the world on his shoulders when he entered the league in 2007.
At the time KD was considered a Unicorn. A seven-footer who could handle the ball like Allen Iverson and shoot the ball as well as Reggie Miller. Durant was destined for greatness.
With all the pressure that Durant was facing, he still managed to live up to the hype. During his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he won four scoring titles, had been All-NBA multiple times, and won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014.
However, one thing that eluded him was an NBA title, that was until he joined the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016.
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Winning Titles No Longer Drives KD
Now that Durant has captured two championships to go along with two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, he is starting to learn that everything that is gold does not necessarily glitter.
“I wasn’t expecting to be a happy human being from a title. I was just expecting like, you know, the ending of a movie,” Durant said to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols via Bleacher Report.
“Once you worked so hard and everybody tells you like, ‘Yo, this is what you need to be working for, is this gold ball and these rings.’ And I’m just like, ‘All right, cool, let me lock in on that.’ And I locked in on wanting to achieve that, but I also realized it’s a lot of stuff that factors in it that’s out of my control.”
For so long, the narrative that surrounded KD was that he was a great player that he needed to win a championship to solidify his legacy. Durant did win a championship but not the way that people expected him to after joining a 73-9 team that already had three All-stars. For that reason alone, Durant was heavily ridiculed, and many tried to question the validity of his championship.
“And once I won a championship [with Golden State], I realized that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It’s not about, you know, let’s go get this championship. I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game.”
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Team USA Experience Is Paying Dividends in Brooklyn
This year is Durant’s first season back since tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals while he was still with the Golden State Warriors.
Durant is with a new collection of talent that is equally as skilled as his supporting cast was in Golden State. The difference is James Harden and Kyrie Irving are much more ball-dominant than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Many questioned how fluid the chemistry would be between the superstar trio because there is only one basketball to be shared.
So far, they have gelled effortlessly. KD attributes that to the times he, Harden, and Kyrie spent with Team USA.
“I think our experiences with Team USA definitely helped,” Durant said.
“When you’re in that environment, I wouldn’t say you have to shrink yourself, but you really have to check your ego and figure out when you need to use it. You might have to take a step back in order for the team to be good. And I think we all understand that.”
Harden, Kyrie, and KD have still only played seven games together. While the lack of time they have spent together remains a cause of concern for many, the Nets sit perched high atop the Eastern Conference.
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