KD opens up on his legacy and why the NBA won’t fulfill him

Kevin Durant Q&A: Warriors star addresses legacy, why NBA won’t fulfill him

Kerith Burke | NBC SPORTS

In my time covering the Warriors, Kevin Durant has come across as a philosopher. He self-critiques. He studies the game. In a career that’s already Hall of Fame worthy, what motivates him to do more?

I sent him a message when the Warriors went on the road: Would you like to talk about the things you want for your legacy? He said yes.

The following Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: Looking at your accomplishments, you have scoring titles, gold medals, championships, MVPs. Even in the fun stuff, you’re an MVP like (the All-Star Game) in Charlotte. As you think about all of your accomplishments, what else would you like to achieve?

KD: It’s more so, what else do I want to experience? How do I see myself playing on a possession-by-possession basis, do you know what I’m saying? That’s what I’m looking forward to. How can I be the best version of myself every time I get on the court?

And that’s a journey and a battle in itself. I think if I focus on that, more so than what’s the next accomplishment, it will just happen organically.

I never really planned anything in my career. I never really said I wanted to get a scoring title or an MVP or a gold medal. … Just put me in this arena or this environment, and let’s see what happens. That’s always been the approach. Luckily, I’ve been able to accomplish some things.

Are you battling against yourself every day?

Yeah, most definitely. I think we all are. We’re trying to be better than we were yesterday. Trying to learn every step of the way.

I also want to celebrate the wins that I have. Even the small ones. Whether it’s making a jump shot, or a step-back three. I want to feel good shooting that shot, even in Charlotte, because I haven’t made one of those in a while and make it. That was a win for me.

I try to look at the small stuff like that, and hopefully the championships and MVPs and accolades … that stuff will follow.

So, now the legacy question. What do you want to leave behind in basketball?

It’s always been about … once more than just my family members knew me, I felt like my legacy as a basketball player was kind of set. Because I spent so much time grinding and only my close friends knew what I did … and now to be out on this stage, just to be here, for one. A lot of people don’t make it. But to also go to the next level. … I feel like my legacy was stamped to the people who are really important to me since Day 1.

What do you want in free agency? How does legacy play into your next step?

It … it doesn’t. Like I said, I’m just focused on the day to day. How can I be the best player I can be? Can this environment help me be the best player than I can be every day? Am I still learning? Am I still having fun being a student of the game?

Just the small stuff that I try to [think about], to make sure I have everything covered so I can be the best I can be on the court.

I’m going to ask you this question, and I know people will interpret it as a free agent question, but with your skills and what you’ve accomplished, do you feel the need to “build something” somewhere else? Do you need that for yourself?

I don’t need anything in this basketball world to fulfill anything in me. The NBA is never going to fulfill me. It’s going to make me feel good about all of the work that I’ve put in, but I think those days of me wanting to prove something to anybody or walk around with a huge chip on my shoulder is not my thing.

It wasn’t before, and I felt like I had to program myself to play with a chip on my shoulder, but I’m never good in that situation. I’m more relaxed and letting these days flow. I’m the best version of me.

I don’t feel like I need anything like that to prove who I am. I’ve been in it for too long.

I like that you said, ‘The NBA will never fulfill me.’ That’s really powerful. What are the things that fulfill you?

Being around family. Being around friends. The people who actually love you deep down to your core, who won’t judge you, who will let you grow mentally, physically, you know? Just let you be who you are. I like those environments.

I love to continue to push the limits on who I am as a person. Just the flow of life and the type of people I want to be around, the environment I want to live in.

All that stuff will fulfill me more so than anything … just building toward something that’s sustained when I’m not even here on this earth. My family could be straight when I die. That’s the type of stuff I tend to think about.

I know the NBA helped me get there, but I’m not going to be forever indebted to the NBA because this is a 50-50 exchange. I’ve worked hard to get here, to be at this level, and they gave me a platform to showcase what I can do. We both helped each other out. That’s how I look at it.

https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/warriors/kevin-durant-qa-warriors-star-addresses-legacy-why-nba-wont-fulfill-him

DEBATE: Should Lebron wreck himself trying to pull this Lakers team to the playoffs or just shut it down and wait for next season?

LeBron shouldn’t wreck himself trying to drag this Lakers team to the playoffs

Nate Scott | USA TODAY SPORTS

LeBron James put together another incredible performance on Wednesday night, finishing with 33 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds in a 125-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers needed the 34-year-old James to play 37 (!) minutes in the contest to secure the result. And complain about his defensive effort all you want, James was the best player on the floor in the game.

And it was silly. It was all silly. This whole thing is silly. The Lakers should not need James to play 37 minutes to take care of a moribund Pelicans team that is in shambles, and the fact that they do need that from James tells me one thing: He needs to not kill his body dragging this Lakers team to the playoffs, because they’re not good enough to do anything if and when they get there.

This was always going to be the year James broke his streak of consecutive NBA Finals appearances. We knew that when he signed with Los Angeles. They were too young, too raw. The Western Conference was too loaded. The Golden State Warriors still exist.

When Magic Johnson and the Lakers brass padded the roster with vets on short deals, the game plan was obvious: Let LeBron get accustomed to L.A., see what young kids could handle playing with him, build for the future when they could go and get a second star for James to play with. They tried to hurry that along with their disastrous attempt to nab Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, but when that failed, the original plan was still in motion: This was never going to be the year.

That’s fine. LeBron can take one year off from playing for a title. He’s done it every year for the last decade plus.

James has played in over 1,100 professional basketball games since he joined the league in 2003. I know he seems invincible, but he is, I hope, a human being. He will one day age, and deteriorate.

Probably.

James has learned how to manage the stress on his body over the course of the season (that free-safety style defense is part of that) but still – he’s 34. Far more of the players drafted in his draft class have retired than still are in the league. 

Basically: Every run down the court for James is putting something on the odometer. This needs to be managed, massaged, if he’s going to keep this up for years and years, which, if you’re a basketball fan, you want to happen.

Which is why he needs to chill out and not break his body down dragging this Lakers team to the playoffs.

This Lakers team isn’t bad. This Lakers team is fine. I like Reggie Bullock. I think Kyle Kuzma can be a great pro.

This team isn’t winning an NBA title. They aren’t coming close to an NBA title. I know they are better than some of the LeBron teams in Cleveland that he dragged to a Finals (LeBron once brought a team to a Finals when Matthew Dellavedova was arguably the team’s second best player in the playoffs), but those teams were playing in a rough Eastern Conference.

I’m not saying James should shut it down. He should continue to play, work with the young guys, see who can hang with him. But he shouldn’t be playing nearly 40 minutes in a midweek game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Don’t put miles on the odometer if the car is going nowhere.

Source: https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/02/lebron-james-lakers-playoffs

Pau Gasol to join Bucks who also extend Bledsoe for 4 years, $70M

Sources: Gasol to join Bucks after Spurs buyout

Adrian Wojnarowski | ESPN

The San Antonio Spurs have bought out center Pau Gasol, clearing the way for the six-time All-Star to join the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources told ESPN.

Players have to be waived by 11:59 p.m. ET Friday to become available for activation in the playoffs.

The Spurs announced the buyout Friday night.

“Pau Gasol is an exceptional individual and the ultimate professional,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We are grateful for his contributions on the court, in the locker room and in our community.”

The move sets the stage for the Gasol brothers to compete in pursuit of the conference championship. Marc Gasol joined the Toronto Raptors (45-17) last month in a trade-deadline deal with Memphis. Milwaukee currently leads the Eastern Conference with a 47-14 record.

More: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/26113538/gasol-join-bucks-spurs-buyout

Sources: Bucks extend Bledsoe for 4 years, $70M

Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe has agreed to a four-year, $70 million contract extension, league sources told ESPN.

General manager Jon Horst said Friday the team has agreed in principle with Bledsoe on the extension and are moving toward finalizing it.

“We are excited to have Eric continue to be a core part of the team,” Horst said.

Bledsoe could’ve become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he wanted to play the rest of his prime with the franchise and finalized an extension that will start to set the market for free-agent guards in the July marketplace.

Bledsoe’s agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports and Horst completed the deal on Friday, league sources said.

Bledsoe, 29, is having his best season in the NBA for the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks, averaging 15.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game entering Friday. He’s also shooting a career-best 49 percent from the field.

More: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/26114166/bucks-extend-bledsoe-4-years-70m

T-Mac jumping off the Celtics’ ship, with ‘no life jacket’ & Jalen Rose says ‘I’m over making excuses’ for the talent-rich squad

Rachel Nichols, Amin Elhassan and Tracy McGrady then discuss whether Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum & Co. are truly in danger of not only missing out on the NBA Finals, or losing in the Eastern Conference finals to the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers, but losing in the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs.

Jalen Rose and Jay Williams break down the dysfunction in Boston between Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Celtics squad. Jay Williams blames Danny Ainge and Brad Steven for forcing Gordon Hayward into the lineup this season but Jalen Rose is done making excuses for the Celts.