OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant became so consumed with winning his first NBA title last season, he turned into someone he didn’t recognize (or like very much). Going into his seventh season, Durant says he’s in a much more relaxed state of mind—though certainly not any less driven. Per the Oklahoman: “I want to be the greatest,’ Durant said. ‘I want to be remembered as one of the greatest. When they redo that top 50 players (of all time), I want to be a part of that.’ … ‘This whole thing is a fraternity. But it’s a different fraternity when you’re staring at a group of guys that won championships, MVPs, and you can say you’re on that level with them in your career,’ Durant said. ‘It’s only a handful of guys, maybe 15, 20 guys, that you can get in that conversation with. And I’m nowhere near there yet. So that’s where I want to be.’ […] Few on the outside world knew it, but chasing a championship swallowed up Durant a season ago. In many ways, he succumbed to the pressure our sports culture puts on star players. He felt he needed to be perfect. Felt his team had to perform flawlessly. ‘Last year, I was obsessed with it,’ Durant said of winning a title. ‘Like, I wasn’t going to sleep because I wanted to win so bad. I was screaming at my teammates, at the refs, at the coaches. I got mad because I thought ‘if we have a bad game here, we’re not going to win a championship.’ That edge, Durant said, is part of the reason he was uncharacteristically whistled for 12 technical fouls last season — matching his combined total from his five previous seasons. ‘So I’m not going to let that overtake my mind,’ said Durant of his championship chase. ‘I mean, of course I want to win it, but I’m not obsessed with it. I’m going to put in the work to help my team, but I’m not going to be obsessed with it because that’s when I compromise myself, and most of the time it doesn’t work out.’ […] He looked himself in the mirror and admitted he saw someone who had become so wrapped up in being perfect in his pursuit of a title that he lost his way. ‘Maybe it’s not (a bad thing),’ Durant said of the obsession. ‘But for me, it was just, like, I wasn’t enjoying it no more. It was more like a job more than just going out there having fun playing the game. I never want to lose the love. Once you lose love of something and you make it into a job then …’ Durant paused. ‘Like, for me, when I was coming in I was like ‘If I miss a shot, I’m going to miss this shot in Game 6 of the Finals,’ he said. ‘If we don’t play defense this game, we’re not going to play defense in the Finals.’ Like, I was thinking like that. And I was going home and I would get so mad over small stuff. That’s not me. So I was losing myself over what people thought, what other people thought.'”
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