OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Not many know much about the guy who dominated Game 1 of the NBA Finals other than he’s pretty good.
Kevin Durant is a mystery even to some of the players trying to beat him.
“It’s one of those things where I respect his game, but I don’t know him, either. I know probably just as much as you guys know,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said Wednesday.
That’s just the way Durant likes it.
He doesn’t seek the spotlight and it seldom comes to Oklahoma looking for him. He rarely makes much news and wouldn’t read it anyway, preferring the quiet life LeBron James gave up any hope of when he went to Miami and promised all those championships at that big welcoming party two summers ago.
He may not be able to hide much longer.
A few more performances like he had in the opener _ when he scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 105-94 victory _ and Durant could take his place as the league’s biggest star.
Yet he pays no more attention to praise than he does criticism _ unless it comes from within his organization.
“I have faith in all those things that I do day in and day out: Coming in, working hard, believing in myself and my teammates, and believing in the system. Whatever happens after that, it happens, as long as I know that I come in and give it my all every single day,” Durant said. “I can’t worry about what other people say or expectations they put on me. It’s just all about how I view myself and how my teammates view me, and we’ll go from there.”
Game 2 is Thursday night, another chance for Durant to build on what’s already one of the league’s strongest resumes in recent years: Three-time scoring champion. MVP of the All-Star game. MVP of the world basketball championship.
On the floor, his name belongs with James, Wade, Kobe Bryant, or any of the NBA’s brightest stars. Away from the court, Durant doesn’t seem interested in anything that would force his name into the discussion, with Wade comparing him to San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.
“And sometimes it’s where you’re at. If he was in Los Angeles, Chicago, somewhere, it would be a little different,” Wade said. “Being in Oklahoma kind of dims his light a little bit. Not him on the basketball court, but him off the court. There’s not a lot of exciting things going on out here.”
Well, except for Durant’s performances.
His scoring average and shooting percentage have gone up every round, and he matched his high scoring game of this postseason on Tuesday. He did hear some criticism for being too passive and taking only four shots over the middle two quarters, but he brushes that off as easily as he does defenders.