Kevin Durant burst into a giant grin well before the inquiry reached its question mark. It was clear that this moment had been on his mind.
“Man, I’m going to be totally honest with you,” said Durant when asked how much he’s anticipating Thursday night’s All-Star reserves announcement. “I’ve been thinking about it and now that it’s getting closer and closer it’ll be a dream come true.
“My brother told me yesterday, ‘If we’re watching the show and we see your name as a reserve we gon pop the apple cider and run around the room and celebrate.’ I was like, ‘Man, we can’t go that far. We got a game the next day. We can’t do that.’
“But growing up, watching All-Star games and seeing the players that play in it, it’ll be the ultimate blessing.”
Thursday’s nationally televised announcement on TNT seems a mere formality. Durant’s credentials have closed the case.
In only his third season, Durant ranks third in scoring at 29.3 points per game, just behind perennial All-Stars LeBron James (29.9 ppg) and Carmelo Anthony (29.7 ppg). Durant also can boast of career-high averages in rebounds (7.3), assists (2.9) and steals (1.3) while shooting a career-best 48.1 percent from the field. He’s put up at least 30 points in 15 of his past 18 games and has a league-leading 25 30-point games. Oh, and his 18 consecutive games of 25-plus points is an NBA record for a player under the age of 22.
And lest we forget the Thunder is now winning, sitting just two games out of the West’s fourth seed at 24-20 following Monday’s games? It was the Thunder’s 10-35 record a year ago that led Durant to discredit himself from deserving consideration.
There is reason to believe Durant already knows his fate. He says he doesn’t, despite teammate James Harden last week curiously posting a message of congratulations to Durant via Twitter on making his first All-Star Game.
Durant on Monday did a darn good job selling his in-question ignorance.
“Don’t tell me right now,” he said when a reporter started spouting off what West coaches have been saying about his chances. “Don’t tell me what they say. Let me wait until Thursday.”
The ever-modest Durant even shied away from authoritatively saying his time has come.
“It’s not for me to determine,” Durant said. “I think I’ve gotten better since last year. Hopefully coaches take notice in that. But I guess you could say it’s my time. I really don’t know. I really don’t focus on whether I’m one of the elite guys in the league. I just focus on helping my team and being one of the better players on my team and helping us win.”
Durant did admit that this year’s game would have tremendous significance, in addition to being his first appearance.
“It’s in Texas,” Durant said. “I call that my second home, in front of 100,000 Texas fans, right down the street from Oklahoma City so the fans can come watch. My teammates said if I make it, it’s my first one so they’ll come watch. It’ll be great, man. That magnitude, that’s the most people that’s ever watched a basketball game, I heard. So just to walk out with that All-Star warm-up with my name on it and make it to that stand, if I’m a part of that it’s a blessing.”
When asked whether he expects to make it, Durant said “It’s up in the air.” But he assured he’ll be watching, waiting, and above all, ready.
“It’s a lot of guys playing well on good teams that could surpass me in being a reserve,” Durant said. “We just have to wait and see. I’ll have that apple cider by the bed, though.”