CHARLOTTE – When Kevin Durant won All-Star MVP in 2012, he was asked whether he considered himself a star, a label he had resisted.
“I wouldn’t say that just yet,” Durant said. “Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that.”
The notion was silly then. Durant had already made two All-NBA first teams and finished second for MVP.
But that All-Star MVP started to change how Durant presented himself. He made another All-NBA first team, again finished second for MVP and led the Thunder to the NBA Finals that season.
“In 2012, I started to feel like I started to hit that elite level,” Durant said. “All that stuff in one year was pretty exciting to me.”
The hits have kept rolling since.
Durant has added an MVP, two titles and two Finals MVPs. Tonight, he claimed another All-Star MVP. The Warriors star scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead LeBron James‘ team to a 178-164 win.
“I just keep trying to rack them up, I guess,” Durant said.
That’s seven years between his All-Star MVPs. Few players sustain that elite level – starring among stars – so long. Only LeBron James (12 years), Michael Jordan (10 years), Kobe Bryant (nine years), Oscar Robertson (eight years) have gone so long between their first and last All-Star MVPs.
Durant, 30, appears to have plenty left in the tank.
Of course, the impending question: Where? Durant can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and this weekend included plenty of speculation.
Tonight’s game gave Knicks fans reason to fanaticize. New York’s presumed targets with its double-max cap space, Durant and Kyrie Irving showed strong chemistry. Half Durant’s baskets were assisted by Irving, who sent five of his six assists to Durant (the other an alley-oop to former teammate LeBron).
Asked which of his All-Star teammates he best meshed with, Durant refused to name one.
“You don’t really have to do too much when you’re playing with so many great players,” Durant said. “You can do what you’re just best at.”