ORLANDO, Fla. — Even if Kevin Durant didn't believe he'd get here, we all knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was only a matter of time.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forward is too brilliant a ballplayer to have not taken his rightful place among the game's all-time greats.
On Sunday, in the 61st NBA All-Star Game, Durant did just that.
The same silky smooth shooting stroke that fans inside Chesapeake Energy Arena have become accustomed to seeing, coupled with growing ability to get to the rim, powered Durant to Most Valuable Player honors as he led the Western Conference to a 152-149 victory over the East inside Amway Center.
Durant became the 46th different player to win the MVP award after scoring a team-high 36 points in 37 minutes.
His name will now be etched on the same trophy earned by legends such as Bob Cousy and Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone and John Stockton, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
“It's just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about,” Durant said. “Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me…I'm glad I'm taking this back to Oklahoma City.”
Durant, though, didn't just join that elite list. He nearly took a seat at the head of the class.
Durant came six points shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain's 42-point All-Star Game scoring record, set in 1962.
“I didn't know,” Durant said of inching close to the record. “I missed some shots that I thought I should have made, missed a couple free throws.”Sunday's box score: West 152, East 149