DU­RANT: EA­GER TO BE BET­TER

NBA Fi­nals MVP Kevin Du­rant will not rest on his lau­rels and con­tin­ues to chal­lenge him­self to do bet­ter in prepa­ra­tion for the com­ing sea­son

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS -

Fa­tigued af­ter a long flight home from China, Kevin Du­rant knocked down one base­line 3-pointer af­ter another — mak­ing 21 of 22 and 19 straight be­fore fi­nally another miss had him hol­ler­ing in frus­tra­tion over the blar­ing mu­sic.

Stephen Curry wasn’t even push­ing him this time in one of their thrilling com­pe­ti­tions — just KD and a cou­ple of ca­pa­ble re­bound­ers.

The NBA Fi­nals MVP wants more from him­self. He thinks about it when he’s sit­ting on his couch at home.

Be­gin­ning his 11th NBA sea­son at age 29 and fresh off his first ca­reer cham­pi­onship, Du­rant is as de­ter­mined as ever.

In his sec­ond sea­son with the Golden State War­riors, he is chal­leng­ing him­self to do ev­ery­thing bet­ter, down to set­ting great screens to get team­mates open.

“I just want to keep do­ing the same things,” Du­rant said. “If I’m mak­ing five out of my 10 shots a night, I can see if I can try to make 5 1/2 or six shots a night. I guess that’s just the next chal­lenge that I have for my­self, just con­tinue to do the small things with my game as far as my rhythm, catch­ing and shoot­ing, drib­bling, one-drib­ble pull-ups, post-ups, all that type of stuff that goes into me be­ing the scorer that I am. I’ve got to work on that ev­ery day, make sure that doesn’t fall by the way­side be­cause if I take two or three days off from do­ing that stuff I’m right be­hind. I can’t take days off be­cause I’m not phys­i­cally as big and strong as a lot of guys that can use their bod­ies. I’ve got to rely on my skill a lit­tle bit more.” He sure de­liv­ered on bas­ket­ball’s big­gest stage just four months ago, then — as promised — ac­cepted a pay cut so gen­eral man­ager Bob My­ers could keep the ros­ter largely in­tact for re­peat run.

Du­rant’s new deal earns him ap­prox­i­mately $53 mil­lion over the next two years and in­cludes a player op­tion for year two. His will­ing­ness to be flex­i­ble al­lowed the War­riors to re-sign Curry for $201 mil­lion over five years and 2015 Fi­nals MVP An­dre Iguo­dala to a three-year con­tract with $48 mil­lion guar­an­teed, among all the other re­li­able re­turn­ers.

Du­rant re­peat­edly curses when he misses dur­ing those heated post-prac­tice shootouts with Curry. They rarely keep an of­fi­cial count on made shots or track who wins.

“I hon­estly don’t know ex­actly what the stand­ings are when it comes to that but we al­ways chal­lenge each other,” Curry said. “I think the best thing about it is we both get mad when we miss a shot be­cause you know in that com­pe­ti­tion that we have if you miss a shot you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to end up los­ing what­ever spot or what­ever drill you’re do­ing. Ev­ery shot’s im­por­tant, which for us can tran­si­tion into the game be­cause you have that cer­tain fo­cus and ex­pec­ta­tion that you’re go­ing to make ev­ery shot. Put a lit­tle bit of pres­sure on your­self while you can in prac­tice in these sit­u­a­tions.” For Du­rant, it’s all about get­ting bet­ter along­side the shooter he con­sid­ers the world’s most ac­cu­rate.

The con­stant scru­tiny about why he left Ok­la­homa City to join a su­per team and the ques­tions on how the War­riors could pos­si­bly share the ball so many ways have sub­sided at last. He has set­tled in beau­ti­fully to the Bay Area. The mu­sic and lowkey vibe at team head­quar­ters are now fa­mil­iar.

AP FOTO KEVIN DU­RANT

NEVER SET­TLE. Be­gin­ning his 11th NBA sea­son at age 29 and fresh off his first ca­reer cham­pi­onship, Du­rant is as de­ter­mined as ever. I’m just com­ing into work ev­ery day try­ing to get bet­ter and I’m go­ing home after­ward. It’s sim­ple. Just try to sim­plify it, so I get my work in and go home.... I don’t even re­mem­ber last year.

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