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Kevin Durant says it was not a wasted year; has good perspective on hoops, life

May 17, 2013, 10:38 AM EDT

Kevin Durant AP

Kobe Bryant said a couple years back that every year he does not win another NBA ring is a “wasted year of my life.”

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder came into this season thinking NBA title. They had made it to Game 5 of the NBA finals last season and they wanted to take the next step.

But when Russell Westbrook went down with a torn ACL in the playoffs, the question became when they would be eliminated, not if. The answer turned out to be in the second round to the Grizzlies.

Durant was asked if this was a wasted year for the Thunder because of that, but he told Royce Young of Daily Thunder it was not.

“Nothing’s ever a wasted year for me. It’s basketball,” KD said. “I’ve grown so much as a man since the beginning of the season. I’ve grown so much as a leader. Nothing is ever wasted. Of course the ultimate goal in this league is to win a championship. But I’m never going to say I wasted a year. I’m blessed to even wake up and do something I love every day. So it’s never wasted. We take that for granted a lot. But that’s something I’m not going to do. I enjoy playing this game. I enjoy playing for this city, my teammates. So every day I get to see those guys and go through some tough times and laugh and argue it’s never wasted. I’m just blessed to be here. And I’m never going to take it for granted.”

That is a great answer. A guy who gets life.

As a society and as sports fans we tend to glorify people who care a lot about one thing — we idolize Jordan for his single-minded focus on winning rings. We want the rest of our sports stars to fit that mold. Durant will get some heat from some for not answering like MJ or Kobe Bryant would. Durant doesn’t care.

“I don’t give a damn. I’m going to be who I’m going to be,” Durant said. “I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m not Michael Jordan. I’m not LeBron James. I’m not Magic Johnson. I’m me. I’m not ever going to compromise myself and my integrity and what I believe in for winning some basketball games or winning a championship. That’s just not how I was brought up. I’m always going to fight for the game I love. I’m going to claw until the last buzzer sounds and if I win a championship, of course I’ll be happy. I’m not satisfied to be in this league and losing, I’m going to work as hard as I can to get to that mountaintop. I enjoy playing the game, I enjoy being here, but I’m never come out to the media and say I wasted a year because we lost a championship. Like I said, I don’t have to be Kobe Bryant.”

Go ahead and rip him in the comments, some of you will. To me, I’d rather raise a son who gave Durant’s answer than Kobe’s.

  1. fanofevilempire - May 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Kevin, you keep working, you will get there.

  2. dexregeant - May 17, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    I think Kobe is a d*ck like a lot of people but you’re taking his comments out of context. I think he was commenting on the fact that at this point in his career he’s not playing just to play. He wants to cement his legacy, he wants to be remembered through time as the greatest. He’s had plenty of years to enjoy playing basketball and I don’t think his comments mean he appreciates the game any less than Durant, they are just at two completely different places in their careers.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 17, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Agreed with this. I’m no Kobe fan – I could name a list of not-so-nice critiques of the man – but you nailed it on the head. I think when Durant is age 32, instead of age 24, and he’s hoping to cement himself as one of the All-Time Greats in the history of the NBA after being in the NBA for over a decade, the pressure to win will be much greater than it is now, and the sting of defeat will hurt a lot more than it does now.

      Everybody agrees that OKC’s “Championship Window” (in which they’ll always have a solid chance of competing for a championship) is nearly a decade long given that Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka are all under age 25. That makes it easier – and correct – for Durant to say he’s focused on personal growth at this point in his career. He’s still on a steep part of his professional and personal growth curve as a young man.

      However, 8 years from now, when he’s 32, things change. What if, worst case scenario (which I believe is unlikely), Durant hasn’t won a ring at all in his career by age 32?
      I bet he’ll feel like every season that doesn’t end with a ring is a at least a little bit of a waste at that point, since he would have peaked as a player and time would be running out.

      Kobe wants another couple of rings. He was at the point in his career – age 32 in 2011 – where he’s not going to get better anymore, he just needed to avoid getting worse.

      So while I support what Durant said now, it’s important to remember that Durant now is in a different stage of his career than Kobe was when he made those comments.

  3. aboogy123456 - May 17, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Durant is the man but I’m starting to get sick of him talking to the media about how humble he is. I like Duncan’s actual humble style more, go to work every day and play basketball, less focus on his image to the media.

    • andyhr17 - May 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      They asked if it was a wasted year by the media and he answered. What was he supposed to say? “Next question?”

      • aboogy123456 - May 17, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        good point, but you have to admit that Durant brings up stuff like this on his own pretty often. Remember when he talked about how Carmelo can win the scoring title? Durant acted like he was being humble by “letting” melo win it, when during the games he was not acting so humble. Did you ever hear carmelo talk about the scoring title? No, he just goes out and balls. Durant is obviously self aware of his humble image, but he plays into it too much instead of just being himself, and that’s what turns me off about him.

    • patriot15 - May 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      Go back and read it again! He was asked a specific question, to which he gave a specific anwser? Ask Duncan the same question and let’s see how he anwsers it? Really

  4. teambringitstrong - May 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Spare me with the moral high ground, soap box standing, I’d rather have him as a son, BS. This is the NBA, you’re paid to win!! KD doesn’t get it and those that ‘applaud’ his comments don’t get it either.
    So are you downing Magic, MJ and Kobe b/c they take a different approach?
    And then for KD to take that thinly veiled shot at the parents of those afore mentioned players by saying, ‘I was brought up differently’.
    How about NOT mentioning those great players at all next time?

    • reesesteel23 - May 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      Jeez……I think you may be reading into it a little too much

      • loungefly74 - May 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        …but i see “teambringitstrong” point…you should always say it’s about winning the title for the team. any other approach sounds not as good.

        sorry a kid… play to for the sport of it…but these are professionals. you are incorrect in thinking it’s okay to say, “oh well…hey, great time…but we didn’t win…but thats okay.”…no,no,no….not a good answer for the media. hey, he can say whatever to his kid behind closed doors…thats a different story.

        (you guys are all fools to think KD has no chinks in his “emotion armor”. his demeanor/attitude doesn’t work every time…)

    • patriot15 - May 19, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Oh, so your one of those win at all cost type of people. I bet your a pleasure to be around?

  5. fruitcovejag - May 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Wise with a perspective beyond his years. Sounds like a good man!

  6. skinsfanwill - May 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    My apologies if you didn’t.

  7. mikejd12 - May 17, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Lebron said basically the same thing and got hammered for it….. buts its ok for KD…… Damn haters #heatnation

    • eventhorizon04 - May 17, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      While that’s true that the pre-2012 LeBron would have his “lack of competitive drive” criticized 24/7 after making comments about, you know, loving life and appreciating what he has instead of being driven to despair after losing, I DO like that a lot of the BS LeBron went through earlier in his career has been recognized as BS.

      Losing a playoff series – particularly without a reliable #2 option – doesn’t make you a “choker” when you average 35+ points, 7+ assists, and 9+ rebounds. LeBron dealt with that criticism after posting those insane numbers against the Magic in 2009, while Durant has posted similar numbers this post-season without Westbrook and has avoided similar criticism.

      So while it’s unfair LeBron had to deal with that stuff, at least people – or at least some people – understand that winning and losing is more complicated than 1 star player having “enough heart” to lead his team to a win.

    • thesixersbench - May 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Nice try. What he actually said was:

      “All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,”

      But yes. Exact same thing. Very articulate, that LeBron.

      • mikejd12 - May 17, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        I knew joker like you would get on here…. I was talking in reference to him saying its not a wasted year. But beings your talking about it i would feel the same way… wouldnt you? Real articulate

      • thesixersbench - May 17, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        “I knew joker like you would get on here…. I was talking in reference to him saying its not a wasted year.”

        Produce the quote otherwise I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re just making noise.

  8. russellbandingo - May 17, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    KD , westbrook, and Perkins all are in the top 10 most technical fouls this year. there is no team in the league that complains to referees like Oklahoma City does and KD is their leader. I just get tired of hearing he is a class act and blah blah blah. if any other superstar is on the microphone talking about it’s okay that they didn’t win a title, thwy would be destroyed for not giving their effort. where are all the KD is not clutch comments? If KD didn’t have such a terrible series in clutch time they probably could have won, but if you miss your free throws and then give up afterwards, you’re definitely not going to win. I guess its just because he was raised different huh?

  9. spankygreen - May 17, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    My advice to Mr Durant..

    NEVER believe you are as good as people say you are.
    NEVER EVER believe you are as bad…(Hint…welcome to Mr James world)

    The minute you don’t fit into the mold of what PEOPLE think you should fit, then you will start to be badmouthed. Mostly be folks who were picked last, or not at all for the playground kickball team but is oh so knowledgeable about what YOUR thoughts, motivation, and style of play should be. And don’t let me forget about how THEY will judge and cement YOUR legacy, whether you win a championship or not….

    Give interviews to trusted, character laden journalist (might be hard to find) only, and just remember that everytime some of these yahoos acting as journalist (male and female) stick a microphone in your face, you really don’t have to say what you really think or feel. No comment, or tip toeing around the subject works just fine…. But in the meantime, be prepared to be dissected all summer long from PEOPLE who don’t know SH$T from Shinola….

  10. addict2sport - May 17, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    He’s never won a ring. Let’s see how he answers if and when he does.

  11. remyje - May 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    He didn’t tear his ACL, dork

  12. sdelmonte - May 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Bravo, KD.

    I think he knows the truth of this season. Sometimes you can’t control things. Like an ACL. Or a trade. So you just go out and do your job the best you can. And since only one team can win, it’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world if yours doesn’t. (And I think he probably also knows that even with a healthy club, the Heat might be on another planet now.)

    I hope he and Westbrook and the team can find one or two more pieces and contend again. The game is better with him around and deep into the playoffs. And I would love to see him get that ring, and not be this era’s Karl Malone or Patrick Ewing.

  13. raider1so1penalize1me - May 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    @teambringitstrong…he’s paid to play at a certain level and give 100% effort for the team which he does. Owners/management etc are meant to build a team to win a championship, it’s a TEAM game not an individual one. He gives all he can out on the court and it should be left at that. Basketball is just a game and is not very important in the grand scheme of things. Durant is wise and aware of what is important and what to hold value in. There’s nothing else that Durant owes you or any other fan

  14. Mike Dusak - May 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Think anyone right now is wasting years with Miami so tough. On the 2012-13 Thunder

  15. GT - May 17, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Should OKC have paid and kept Harden? Nowadays it seems you need 3+ superstars to contend, especially with how quickly an injury can befall you.

    • skinsfanwill - May 17, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Serge Ibaka’s game has gotten worse since he has attempted to become a jump shooter. He doesn’t even play defense that well any more. His goaltending calls are his way of showing the world he made an attempt to defend a shot. Of course they should have kept Harden. You can find a big man that can’t shoot and can’t defend anywhere.

    • raysfan1 - May 18, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      It would have been great, but (1)they still would have been eliminated without Westbrook, and (2) that unfortunately is just not OKC’s economic reality.

  16. andrewproughcfe - May 17, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    >”we idolize Jordan for his single-minded focus on winning rings”

    Didn’t win many rings when Bird & Magic & the Pistons were in their prime. Does the “greatest player ever” really have to wait until he’s 28 to mature into a leader?

    Didn’t take Tim Duncan that long. Or Magic Johnson. Or Larry Bird.

    Jordan didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs until his 4th season. Shaq and Lebron had led talent-poor teams to the finals by then in their careers.

    Jordan didn’t make it to a conference finals until his 5th season. Bird, Johnson and Tim Duncan all had 2 rings by that time in their careers.

    And don’t act like all those other players walked onto teams that were loaded for bear. The Celtics were 32-50 the year before Bird joined them. The Spurs were 20-62 the year before Duncan joined. The Magic were 21-62 the year before Shaq joined them. The Cavs were 17-65 the year before they drafted Lebron.

  17. klownboy - May 17, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Keep your head up Kevin, didn’t have you guys losing in 5, but you’ll get there when you develop a killer instinct a la Kobe.

    • rohozx - May 17, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      THE same instinct he had in the DENVER HOTEL??

  18. Mr. Wright 212 - May 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Always looking for any way to slight Kobe.

  19. misterdreamer119 - May 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    No you are not bryant. You are a way better basketball player.

    • aboogy123456 - May 17, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      keep dreaming

  20. rickyspanish - May 17, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    I like that picture.

  21. raysfan1 - May 17, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    …and KD once again demonstrates what it is that would make me a KD fan even if I didn’t live near OKC.

  22. badintent - May 17, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    He made about $25 Million ++++ this year with salary and Foot Locker , etc.So NO, it was not a wasted year by any measuring stick. Hopefully, he bought some S&P stock index hedge fund investments and 100 Dennys(like Hakeem ).

  23. apmn - May 18, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Wise words, but I hope he at least regrets that stupid Dwayne Wade nightmare commercial.

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