Kevin Durant has said he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone, especially now that he’s a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP. The trophies clearly matter to him, and on Friday night he explained how he considers himself worthy to speak to some of the league’s greatest ever as a peer.
That doesn’t mean he won’t justify himself to others, though. Even with the titles, skeptics claim Durant’s achievements are tainted by his own agency. In moving to the Warriors, he took the easy way out. But as it turns out, Durant disagrees with that pretty strongly.
Durant gave a wide-ranging interview to Yahoo Sports on Friday after the Warriors locked up their third title in four years. In it, Durant looked back on his role in the dynasty and what it meant to join Golden State two summers ago.
Interestingly, Durant argues it’s harder to stand out on a team loaded with talent.
“I feel like it’s easy to be the best player when you don’t have good players around you. I feel like it’s harder to stand out when you have great players around you,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I pride myself on standing out wherever I am. I pride myself on working hard wherever I go. And I feel like these guys embraced me and I feel like I’m a Warrior.”
It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but I suppose that depends on what Durant means by standing out. Sure, when a team full of All-Stars is clicking anyone can look good on any given night. So good play from a superstar will obviously stand out more on a team of scrubs.
One could certainly argue, however, that it’s harder to play well when you’re not getting any help at all. LeBron James carried the Cavaliers throughout the playoffs because it was so rare another player on that team had a good game in a supporting role.
That narrative, however, looked much different for the Warriors in Game 3 of the Finals, when Durant was transcendent while Klay Thompson and Steph Curry struggled all night. In that case, Durant was a backup plan only the Warriors have. When James has an off night, meanwhile, it looks like the listless effort the Cavaliers put up in Game 4.
None of this matters, of course, and it won’t sway anyone who thinks that Durant ruined the league by joining the Warriors in the first place. It doesn’t seem like Durant was trying to throw shade at James or maybe even Russell Westbrook, but rather is justifying his second straight Finals MVP on one of the greatest teams ever built. If that’s the case, he’s certainly right about standing out in the Finals.