Kevin Durant hit an iconic, game-sealing shot over LeBron James in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals — a pull-up three-pointer on the left wing right in James’s face — to help deliver the Golden State Warriors their second NBA title in three seasons. But that doesn’t mean Durant, who was crowned Finals MVP shortly after the shot, wants to be labeled the face of the Warriors franchise.
Instead, the former league MVP and four-time scoring champion conceded he’s comfortable not being the poster boy for the NBA’s most dominant basketball club. And after signing a two-year, less-than-max deal — presumably a precursor to penning a longer-term max contract next summer — Durant said, in an awesome feature by GQ’s Zach Baron titled “Kevin Durant’s Just Heating Up,” he’d rather lead by example than tell teammates to stand behind him.
“Steph Curry is the face of the franchise, and that helps me out, because I don't have to,” Durant said. “I don't want to have to be the leader. I'm not a leader. I'm bad at saying, ‘Stand behind me and follow me.’ No. I'm one of those guys that's just like, ‘Let's do this shit together. Let's just work everybody together. I don't mind being on the front line with you, but let's come and do it together.’ That's my way of leadership. I'm leading by example.”
Durant didn’t only touch on leadership in GQ’s wide-ranging piece. Here are some other things the Warriors star said:
On hitting the game-winning shot over LeBron James in the NBA Finals
"That was the best moment I ever had," Durant told me. "I made the game-winning shot in the finals against my fucking idol. Somebody that I really, really, really followed since I was a ninth-grade high schooler. I felt like he was passing the torch to me."
He said he still thinks about the shot he hit over James pretty much every day. “That feeling was amazing,” he said. “But also, I'm gonna put that memory to the side when I start up again and just go play.”
You’d probably feel liberated, too, if you just hit the game-winning shot — a shot you’ve worked on your entire life — over your idol on the biggest NBA stage possible.
On leaving Oklahoma City for Oakland, and players taking control of their own destinies
“I chose to take control of my life, and I think that was a huge step for me personally, and I felt really proud,” he said.
“We always had the power, as players,” he said. “We're just realizing it now. It's like when you wake up—we woke now. And a lot of people didn't want us to be woke. They wanted us to stay in this trance, that we felt like we had to live our life based on what somebody else does. They can move us when they want to, they can sign us when they want to.… We got control of that now.”
You’d probably rather end up like Durant — who chose to leave OKC for Oakland — than Isaiah Thomas, who gave his hip and front tooth to a Celtics franchise that turned around and traded him for Kyrie Irving weeks later.
On struggling with self confidence
“I still struggle to feel confident in myself,” he said. “I still struggle with seeking approval from others sometimes, not realizing that I'm winning in life. Sometimes I tend to go backwards. But that's just part of life. Don't feel down about it. Don't feel upset. Don't feel embarrassed, even though you are embarrassed at times.... I'm having a bad day today. But you guys are giving me life.”
Kevin Durant is human, too, guys. Maybe just not on a basketball court.
Durant and the Warriors are attempting to repeat as NBA champions, and their task hasn’t gotten any easier in the toughened Western Conference. There’s no telling if Golden State can pull it off. We just know it’ll be fun as ever to watch them try.
You can check out the rest of his awesome feature here.