Kevin Durant has always been pretty shy and very humble. Off the court of course, because on it, he’s anything but either. He’s a roaring lion that doesn’t back down from any challenge.
But away from basketball, he’s always balked at any notion that he’s something special. Durant even once was shocked at Michael Jordan knowing who he was. He’s always heaped praise on teammates and coaches and never himself. He’s always deflected questions about his superstardom to something else. He doesn’t take credit but instead directs it towards something else.
KD has gone so far with it that often it’s almost reached an annoying level. Like, “Come on man, you’ve got to know you’re good.” But the humility is genuine. It’s real. Kevin Durant may be playing “Kevin Durant” in his new movie, but he’s no actor in real life. He’s a kind, genuine, unselfish and humble person.
But he’s dropping a bit of that aw shucks manner and finally taking ownership of rise to the NBA’s Mount Rushmore of current stars. In an interview with Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Durant kind of let loose talking about where his current standing is in the league and where he wants it to be. “I’ve heard a few times, in three or four years, this league is going to be yours. . . . I don’t like that. Because I think I’m established now. My time is now,” Durant said, “I feel as though I’ve proved myself these last five years that I can be one of the top players in the league. I’ve got a long way to go to being the ultimate best, but I think my time is now. And I’m starting to enter my prime.”
Maybe it’s because he reached the near pinnacle of the game by playing in the Finals last season. Maybe it’s because he was the go-to scorer on one of the greatest teams ever in the Olympics this summer. Maybe it’s because of the All-Star appearances, the scoring titles, the All-NBA teams, and on and on. Maybe he’s finally figuring out what we’ve all known for a while.
Or maybe he’s finally just ready to admit it.
“I always felt that I belonged on top with those guys and I just have to continue to keep working to maintain that,” Durant said. “It feels good to be a part of a great group of guys, to do something special for the country. We all respected each other and they never looked at me as the younger guy coming up and waiting his turn. They were just, ‘Go out there and play, do what you do.’ And that’s what I did.”
Durant said in the article that he’s felt that way about himself since really the 2011 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, but hasn’t ever really opened up about it because “I don’t like to talk about myself, but I had to get that out there.”
Don’t confuse Durant’s change in tone though. There’s a difference between humility and confidence. And Durant has never lacked in the latter.
It was going to have to happen though. Durant could live in the dark about himself forever. Because at some point, it would go from endearing humility to appearing like a frustrating charade. There’s no way to deny how good he is. I think a lot of it was that KD himself sometimes was still pinching himself. Not that he was surprised at where he’s at, but more that he sometimes couldn’t believe it. This is a guy that truly didn’t think he was going to make it to a college team, much less the NBA.
Like I said, he wasn’t just trying to make you say awwww by playing the humble card. It’s real. And don’t misunderstand these new comments as some kind of new-found bravado. He’s just evolving, learning more about himself and finding more confidence from past experience.
He’s getting better. As he said, he’s hitting his prime. And he knows it. Scary for you, NBA.
KD is his own man and his own player. He’s always battled against letting his achievements and praise go to his head. He might be willing to accept the fact he belongs in a conversation with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant now, but he’s no different internally.
He’s not willing to wait, at least in terms of someone else’s timetable. He’s not going to hold off until someone hands him the reigns to the league.
He wants to take it. Now.