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Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is no longer driven by championships. After all, he has won two. Instead, he says it’s the desire to be at his best that fuels him.
“I wasn’t expecting to be a happy human being from a title,” Durant told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview that aired Saturday on SportsCenter. “I was just expecting like, you know, the ending of a movie — once you worked so hard and everybody tells you like, ‘Yo, this is what you need to be working for, is this gold ball and these rings.’ And I’m just like, ‘All right, cool, let me lock in on that.’ And I locked in on wanting to achieve that, but I also realized it’s a lot of stuff that factors in it that’s out of my control.
“And once I won a championship [with Golden State], I realized that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It’s not about, you know, let’s go get this championship. I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game.”
Durant is averaging 28.4 points, 7.3 points and 5.3 assists in his first active season with the Nets after missing all of the 2019-20 season as he recovered from an Achilles tendon injury.
“I’ve been around, been out of the game for two years and having anxiety about like, ‘What am I doing when I get back?'” said Durant, 32, who is in his 14th NBA season after stops with the Warriors and Thunder. “Being out with an Achilles has you thinking about the game differently. And my goal is to be out there, you know. Who knows what’s gonna happen when I’m out there. I just want to be available. And I think that’s all I really want out of this, to be available for as long as I can. And we’ll see what happens between the lines.”
After missing 23 games this season due to a hamstring injury, Durant returned to a standing ovation on Wednesday night, coming off the bench for just the second time in his career and responding with 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field in 19 minutes of a blowout victory against New Orleans.
That game was just the seventh in which the team’s Big Three — Durant along with James Harden and Kyrie Irving — had been on the court together this season.
“I think our experiences with Team USA definitely helped,” Durant said of the chemistry that is being developed among the three stars. “When you’re in that environment, I wouldn’t say you have to shrink yourself, but you really have to check your ego and figure out when you need to use it. You might have to take a step back in order for the team to be good. And I think we all understand that.
“… I love what we’re building. … Everybody brings their part to it. Everybody’s valuable. And we’re just trying to create something pretty cool for people to watch, and for us to get the players to come play in.”