Durant says he has benefited despite disappointing end to the season.
Following their post season exit at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, Kevin Durant has revealed that he doesn’t feel as if it has been a wasted year.
Having made it to the NBA Finals last season, the Thunder were unable to advance past the Conference semi-finals stage this time round, largely due to the injury sustained by Russell Westbrook in the first round.
However, instead of making excuses or feeling sorry for himself, Durant believes he has learnt a great deal about both himself and his team and is looking ahead to next season.
“Nothing’s ever a wasted year for me. It’s basketball. I’ve grown so much as a man since the beginning of the season. I’ve grown so much as a leader. Nothing is ever wasted,” he told reporters as quoted by ESPN.
His response comes after reporters put it to the 24-year-old that Kobe Bryant once famously said that a season which didn’t result in an NBA championship was “a wasted year of my life”.
The Mamba was speaking after the Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, but Durant was keen to stress that he disagreed with that notion and was agitated after being pressed on it.
“I don’t give a damn. I’m going to be who I’m going to be. I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m not Michael Jordan. I’m not LeBron James. I’m not Magic Johnson. I’m me. I’m not going to ever compromise myself, my integrity and what I believe in for winning some basketball games and winning a championship. That’s just not how I was brought up,” he added.
Durant carried the Thunder after Westbrook suffered his injury in Game 2 of the first round clash against the Houston Rockets. He averaged 28.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 46 minutes a game.
However, the Grizzlies proved to be too much for him to handle on his own, given the restricted contributions from team-mates such as Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson.
Despite the disappointment, both Durant and the Thunder will be back next season as determined as ever to bring a championship back to Oklahoma City. With a fully-fit Westbrook back in the line-up and potentially additional pieces added in the off-season, there will be few who would bet against them.