Durant Doesn’t Have A Neophyte’s Nerves
Game 1 was simply an off-day.
Were your eyes on Kevin Durant? Sunday’s game was his Hollywood premiere, and his newness, his remarkably rapid ascension of stardom’s ladder, was the story — not Kobe, not Phil, not the beginning of L.A.’s title defense, none of it. Those things are sequels. KD is the next gen’s blood.
So we could expect him to bleed green, as attributable to his Vulcan temperament as his rawness. 7-24 from the floor, twice as many turnovers as assists? Forgivable. No one could’ve expected more than glimpses of greatness.
“It was discouraging that — especially for myself — I got some good looks, some great looks, and I wasn’t able to make them.”
Well, except Durant, of course.
And of course his attitude would be such. Ron Artest absolutely defended well for the bulk of the game, but Kevin Durant holds himself to superstar standards, and he’s not a superstar if he doesn’t. Superstars elevate above outstretched hands to hit jump shots — Kobe makes a living doing it, Michael made a living doing it. Superstars absorb liberal quantities of contact and find a way to make the ball drop, either with the layup, the foul shots, or the layup and the foul shot — that’s Kobe, too, and LeBron, and it was Michael, and there are certainly others.
Now that free throws are mentioned, superstars are the foci of petty tiffs with opposing parties designed to stir doodoo and disrupt the calm, collected cool (SEE: Jackson, Philip Douglas). Superstars take a lot of shots and make a lot of shots, so pressure plateaus and becomes a normal intensity commensurate with ability that’s analogous to lesser levels and the players who occupy them. Shamelessly grandiose? Sound like a Nike ad? Yep. Superstars walk in different shoes.
That notion didn’t dawn upon Kevin Durant Sunday afternoon — his place in the game didn’t alter with the second season’s beginning. He still had to hit those contested jump shots. He still had to get to the rim and get to the foul line, block all of the pregame minutiae from his head, and play ball. He knew it all. And nowhere in that formula is the term “nerves”.
“It’s all about working hard, so tomorrow, [I] just gotta go back and continue to keep working and keep improving … That’s what it’s all about, is getting better,” KD said. Getting better starts with easy, early buckets to build confidence, not a 28-foot jump shot, his first Game 1 attempt. It starts with putting himself in a position to shoot when there aren’t two or three yellow shirts between him and the basket, which was the case through two-and-a-half quarters Sunday. These things are fixable, and quickly, because Kevin Durant is a superstar, and superstars can fix things overnight.
Things would be different had he not been comfortable releasing 24 field goal tries and gradually working his way toward 11 foul shots. They’d be different if he put on a tentative display that manifested in TOs galore, but he only had 4. He just had an off-day — all greats do. And his was not traceable to that greenness; the media attention paid to him by the other team’s coach said so, the stats said so, Kevin Durant said so.
At afternoon’s end, he had just missed some shots.
“Come Game 2, hopefully I’ll be able to knock those shots down.”
It’s not so much a question of if, but how he’ll get his on Tuesday. It’s what superstars do.