Kevin Durant was a skilled scorer from the moment he set foot in the NBA, but he never settled for that. He has meticulously expanded his game – rebounding, distributing, perimeter defense. This year, he developed the tools of a more-traditional big man.
The Warriors’ dominance only pushes Durant to challenge himself more. Other teams aren’t challenging him. At times, he seems bored with outside obstacles, focusing on self-set benchmarks.
Durant, 29, will probably continue to test himself this way until retirement. When will that be?
“This game, your craft, you have to continue studying it,” said Durant. “No matter how much you enjoy it, nobody wants to be in school that long. I know I don’t. At some point, you have to be ready to graduate. Thirty-five, that’s just a number in my mind.”
Rich Kleiman, Durant’s business partner, said Durant had previously shared with him that he might walk away at 35. “I heard him say that, but I’ll believe it when it happens,” Kleiman said.
I’m with Kleinman. This sounds like something someone just says. When push comes to shove, I doubt Durant walks away that soon.
There’s too much money involved, too much fame, too much comfort in the routine. Would Durant really walk away from that?
Most players don’t stick in the NBA until age 35. But Durant would be declining from such a high peak, and his game – with a sweet jumper and distinctive length – should age well.
Of MVPs in the last 40 years, only Allen Iverson (34) retired younger than 35, and only Larry Bird was even 35:
Iverson’s style of play left him vulnerable to breaking down. Bird had longstanding back issues.
Neither applies to Durant.
He probably won’t be as good at age 35 as he is now, but he’ll likely belong in the NBA. Most players good enough for the NBA choose to be in the NBA.