Three-time NBA scoring champ and four-time All-Star Kevin Durant addressed his race against Miami’s LeBron James for league MVP honors and various other topics following this morning’s shoot-around in preparation for tonight’s contest against the visiting Heat:
How much do you think the MVP race between you and LeBron James adds to the luster of tonight’s game?
Durant: “To be honest, I don’t think it even matters. It’s the 50th game (of the season). I doubt whoever wins is going to win the MVP, you know what I mean? I try not to worry about stuff like that. I go out there and try to play my game and play within the team’s concepts and go from there. Playing against one of the best players in the league is fun.”
Given the circumstances – five straight losses against the Heat, the last game before the All-Star break and the fact you’re coming off a loss at Utah on Tuesday – does tonight qualify as a “must win” in your eyes?
“Every game is a must win for us. I mean, that’s how we look at it. I’m not saying if we lose this game our season is over. It’s far from that. Of course you want to go on and win every single game. It’s an opportunity for us to get better tonight and we’re looking forward to that.”
You’ve said sometimes people forget you’re four years younger than LeBron when they compare you two. Why did you say that?
“This is my sixth year in the league and I’m still continuing to get better, I’m still learning the game. You come into the league and people automatically put labels on you as one of the best players and it don’t matter about your age. I’m still learning the game. I’m not where I want to be and I think that’s the best part about me. I continue to keep getting better, I know where I have to get better, it’s just a matter of me going out there and improving it.”
Are you saying they should take age into account when they compare you and LeBron?
“Naw, it really shouldn’t matter. I’m not making no excuses because of my age. I was only saying I’ve still got room to grow. I still can get better. I’m not necessarily in my prime yet. I’m not making any excuses about me being four years younger or anything like that. You can compare me to those guys. I like that pressure.”
What do you think of all the comparisons between LeBron and Michael Jordan these days?
“I think those two guys are different. LeBron’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player. I think people were really waiting for him to win the championship to compare him (to Jordan), just like any other great player. The stuff Jordan was doing was unreal. It’s not a knock on LeBron or taking anything from him because the stuff he’s doing is unreal as well, but it’s kind of hard to compare anybody to Michael Jordan, just the way he played the game of basketball. Guys are different. I don’t really like when people compare eras or guys back then to guys now. … Players are unique in their own different way, and LeBron is one of them.”
Do you cringe knowing you might be next when it comes to comparing you to certain players?
“I don’t really think about it because those guys, they paved the way for us and they made it easier for us today … It’s kind of difficult to really say, because this game right now is different. It’s shifted to a small-game game whereas then it was more bigs. … I always say you can’t compare guys until both guys are finished playing. So you’ll see when Kobe Bryant is done playing, how you’d compare him to Michael, Magic Johnson or LeBron.”
– John Rohde