Kevin Durant gave LeBron James a big hug at the end of Game 5 last Thursday. James and the Miami Heat had just won the NBA championship, at the expense of Durant’s Oklahoma City squad.
On the way back to the locker room, a tearful Durant was followed by TV cameras and broke down when he hugged his family. It was a painful moment for the league’s three-time scoring champion. He dreamed of becoming an NBA champion and believed it was his time to shine on the game’s biggest stage.
But Durant’s Thunder team melted down in the end. After Game 1, the series became one Thunder mistake after another. They faltered at the end of games 2, 3 and 4, and got blown out in Game 5. Durant had an opportunity to tie Game 2 with a baseline shot he has made a hundred times. But his shot fell short, which is kind of the way the rest of the series went for the Thunder.
“It hurts, man. We’re all brothers on this team and it just hurts to go out like this. We made it to The Finals, which was cool for us, but we didn’t want to just make it there. Unfortunately, we lost so it’s tough,” said Durant, who averaged 30 points per game in the series.
So Durant enters the offseason much like the way he did last season. Last year he walked off the court in defeat, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals. This year, he fell three games short of his ultimate goal.
“We’re going to continue to work hard,” Durant said. “I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else, I wouldn’t want to play in any other city. Just blessed to be a part of this organization and hopefully we can get back.”
Durant hopes he’ll get another shot at a championship. Nothing is a sure thing in the NBA, but there is a good chance Durant and the Thunder will be back in the NBA Finals and his chief rival LeBron James is almost anticipating another Heat-Thunder showdown in postseason.
“He’s a hell of a player,” James said of Durant in his interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “He’s a great person too.
“He’s gonna be my inspiration,” James continued. “He’s gonna be the person that I look at every night to see what he did in a game so I can match him. He’s someone I want to compete with year after year.”