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INDIANAPOLIS — As Kevin Durant continues working his way up the all-time scoring list, he does so with a greater appreciation for what LeBron James is accomplishing as he approaches the NBA’s scoring record.
“To be the No. 1 in anything, there’s 8 billion people in the world, we just figured that out last week, so to be the No. 1 of all time at scoring the basketball, I’m sure it’s going to be a range of emotions for him,” Durant said at Friday’s shootaround, in advance of a game against the Indiana Pacers. “But to be in an era where we see this live is pretty cool as well. You probably can’t even describe the emotions and feelings him and his family and his friends are going to go through, but it’s cool to see it up close.”
Durant, who enters Friday’s game with 26,074 points, passed Kevin Garnett for 18th place on the all-time list in Wednesday’s win over the Toronto Raptors. James, meanwhile, has 37,311 career points, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387.
Durant says he has never focused on becoming the all-time scoring king, even as he climbs to a higher place in basketball history each night.
“I never really thought of it,” Durant said. “I heard the talks, especially early on in my career when I was doing stuff the LeBrons, the Michael Jordans have done in the league as far as scoring, but I know how tough it is to consistently do this year in and year out, day in and day out. A lot of stuff is out of your control. But I just try to come in and be the best version of myself I can be, and whatever happens, happens.”
The same goes for each player Durant passes on the list. He said he never had a particular name he wanted to get past, preferring to focus on improving his own game.
“I never thought of it that way,” Durant said. “It’s always about just keep adding, keep building up good days every day. Being consistent in who I am as a player, and seeing what happens at the end of the road. So I’m just grateful to get up and do something like this every day. Just keep adding to my skill and keep building my database for the game, I guess.
“That’s what I look forward to every day. Whoever I pass and whatever records I break for myself, it is what it is. But I’m just trying to get up and be available, be the best I can every day.”
Durant and James haven’t played against each other since a Christmas Day game in 2018 because of a variety of injuries for both players, but Durant had to smile when asked about that fact after a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 13.
“I wasn’t thinking about it until y’all started bringing it up,” Durant said. “He’s obviously top-two player to ever play, top-three player to ever play the game, so it’s always going to be excitement when he steps on the floor. And we’ve been around for so long that people have seen so many battles between us two at the highest stage that people look forward to it. It’s cool that we’re still relevant at an old age, people want to come watch us play.”