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Friday, June 15, 2012

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Enigma: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is one of the best players in the NBA, but prefers to stay out of the spotlight off the court. AP

Thunder star Durant content to keep it low key

AP

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant walks around without the burden of pressure that LeBron James and the Miami Heat can never escape.

Durant is a mystery even to some of the players trying to beat him.

"It's one of those things where I respect his game, but I don't know him, either. I know probably just as much as you guys know," Miami's Dwyane Wade said Wednesday.

That's just the way Durant likes it.

He doesn't seek the spotlight and it seldom comes to Oklahoma looking for him. He rarely makes much news and wouldn't read it anyway, preferring the quiet life James gave up any hope of when he went to Miami and promised all those championships at that big welcoming party two summers ago.

Durant instead committed to remaining in Oklahoma City that same month, bypassing a big announcement by revealing on Twitter he had agreed to a contract extension.

He may not be able to hide much longer.

A few more performances like he had in the opener — when he scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter of the Thunder's 105-94 victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals — and Durant could take his place as the league's biggest star.

Yet he pays no more attention to praise than he does criticism — unless it comes from within his organization.

"I have faith in all those things that I do day in and day out: Coming in, working hard, believing in myself and my teammates, and believing in the system. Whatever happens after that, it happens, as long as I know that I come in and give it my all every single day," Durant said. "I can't worry about what other people say or expectations they put on me. It's just all about how I view myself and how my teammates view me, and we'll go from there."

Game 2 is Thursday night, another chance for Durant to build on what's already one of the league's strongest resumes in recent years: Three-time scoring champion. MVP of the All-Star Game. MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship.

On the floor, his name belongs with James, Wade, Kobe Bryant, or any of the NBA's brightest stars. Away from the court, Durant doesn't seem interested in anything that would force his name into the discussion, with Wade comparing him to San Antonio's Tim Duncan.

"And sometimes it's where you're at. If he was in Los Angeles, Chicago, somewhere, it would be a little different," Wade said. "Being in Oklahoma kind of dims his light a little bit. Not him on the basketball court, but him off the court. There's not a lot of exciting things going on out here."



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