Kevin Durant is primed for a big summer as the most sought-after free agent in the NBA, but there’s business to be taken care of first after Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the San Antonio Spurs last night in the second round of the NBA Playoffs to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Not too many people are better at taking care of business than Spurs power forward, five-time NBA champion, and future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan, who had a piece of advice for Kevin Durant following last night’s Game 6.
“Enjoy this. Take advantage of the opportunity.”
“Ah, he still looks like he can play, be effective at his age. It’s a joy to play against Tim Duncan, someone so classy, so great at this game of basketball and playing for so long. If it is his last game, it was an honor. But we’ll see in the next couple of weeks what he decides – or maybe when the season starts.”
Fans and analysts alike have compared Kevin Durant to Tim Duncan ever since Durant was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics (remember when that was a thing) in 2007, just after Duncan had won his fourth NBA title. Both have played in smaller markets their entire career, both are extremely smooth on the basketball court, and both are known to be very humble. However, Durant says that while he’s flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Duncan, the comparisons aren’t exactly accurate.
“Obviously, it was an easy comparison, two small-market teams, but we come from different backgrounds, different personalities and we handle things differently. He does stuff his way, and it’s been nothing but successful and I’m going to handle stuff my way. I’ve had my ups and downs, just like any other person. I did it my way, and I’m trying to create my own path.”
For Kevin Durant, his path is headed to the Bay Area for a date with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Western Conference Finals, which start this Monday on TNT. While defeating one of the all-time greats in Tim Duncan is a big deal for Durant and the Thunder, the 2014 NBA MVP knows that the job isn’t finished.
“This is not our championship.”
Kevin Durant and company weren’t favored to beat the Spurs and certainly won’t be the favorites when they face the Warriors, who set an NBA record with 73 regular season wins. The Thunder were once supposed to be what the Warriors are now. The duo of Durant and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to an NBA Finals appearance in 2012, losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games. But then they lost James Harden to the Houston Rockets, were saddled with big injuries to key players, including Durant himself, and were essentially overtaken by the duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as the Warriors became the dominant team in the West. Kevin Durant doesn’t care about any of that.
“It really didn’t matter to us. We can’t control the noise outside. We focus on everybody on this side, in this practice floor and this arena. We worry about that. That’s part of the job. People are going to make predictions and make assumptions about everything. We just got to play.”
It’s certainly a sad day for the NBA if Tim Duncan decides not to return, but if the future of the Western Conference is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook taking on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the league is in pretty good hands. Well, that’s if Kevin Durant remains a member of the Thunder. Taking out the Spurs and Warriors to earn another trip to the Finals might just keep him in Oklahoma City.
[Photo by Alonzo Adams/AP]