In my time covering the Warriors, Kevin Durant has come across as a philosopher. He self-critiques. He studies the game. In a career that's already Hall of Fame worthy, what motivates him to do more?
I sent him a message when the Warriors went on the road: Would you like to talk about the things you want for your legacy? He said yes.
The following Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: Looking at your accomplishments, you have scoring titles, gold medals, championships, MVPs. Even in the fun stuff, you’re an MVP like (the All-Star Game) in Charlotte. As you think about all of your accomplishments, what else would you like to achieve?
KD: It's more so, what else do I want to experience? How do I see myself playing on a possession-by-possession basis, do you know what I’m saying? That’s what I’m looking forward to. How can I be the best version of myself every time I get on the court?
And that’s a journey and a battle in itself. I think if I focus on that, more so than what’s the next accomplishment, it will just happen organically.
I never really planned anything in my career. I never really said I wanted to get a scoring title or an MVP or a gold medal. … Just put me in this arena or this environment, and let’s see what happens. That’s always been the approach. Luckily, I’ve been able to accomplish some things.
Are you battling against yourself every day?
Yeah, most definitely. I think we all are. We’re trying to be better than we were yesterday. Trying to learn every step of the way.
I also want to celebrate the wins that I have. Even the small ones. Whether it’s making a jump shot, or a step-back three. I want to feel good shooting that shot, even in Charlotte, because I haven’t made one of those in a while and make it. That was a win for me.
I try to look at the small stuff like that, and hopefully the championships and MVPs and accolades ... that stuff will follow.
So, now the legacy question. What do you want to leave behind in basketball?
It’s always been about ... once more than just my family members knew me, I felt like my legacy as a basketball player was kind of set. Because I spent so much time grinding and only my close friends knew what I did ... and now to be out on this stage, just to be here, for one. A lot of people don’t make it. But to also go to the next level. ... I feel like my legacy was stamped to the people who are really important to me since Day 1.
What do you want in free agency? How does legacy play into your next step?
It ... it doesn’t. Like I said, I’m just focused on the day to day. How can I be the best player I can be? Can this environment help me be the best player than I can be every day? Am I still learning? Am I still having fun being a student of the game?
Just the small stuff that I try to [think about], to make sure I have everything covered so I can be the best I can be on the court.
I’m going to ask you this question, and I know people will interpret it as a free agent question, but with your skills and what you’ve accomplished, do you feel the need to “build something” somewhere else? Do you need that for yourself?
I don’t need anything in this basketball world to fulfill anything in me. The NBA is never going to fulfill me. It’s going to make me feel good about all of the work that I’ve put in, but I think those days of me wanting to prove something to anybody or walk around with a huge chip on my shoulder is not my thing.
It wasn't before, and I felt like I had to program myself to play with a chip on my shoulder, but I’m never good in that situation. I’m more relaxed and letting these days flow. I’m the best version of me.
I don’t feel like I need anything like that to prove who I am. I’ve been in it for too long.
I like that you said, ‘The NBA will never fulfill me.’ That’s really powerful. What are the things that fulfill you?
Being around family. Being around friends. The people who actually love you deep down to your core, who won’t judge you, who will let you grow mentally, physically, you know? Just let you be who you are. I like those environments.
I love to continue to push the limits on who I am as a person. Just the flow of life and the type of people I want to be around, the environment I want to live in.
All that stuff will fulfill me more so than anything … just building toward something that’s sustained when I’m not even here on this earth. My family could be straight when I die. That’s the type of stuff I tend to think about.
I know the NBA helped me get there, but I’m not going to be forever indebted to the NBA because this is a 50-50 exchange. I’ve worked hard to get here, to be at this level, and they gave me a platform to showcase what I can do. We both helped each other out. That’s how I look at it.