|Durant is ready to take over the NBA. (Getty Images)|
There has always been a distinct humility about Kevin Durant. He's always heaped praise on teammates and coaches and never himself. He's always deflected questions about his superstardom to something else.
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Durant has gone so far with it that often it's almost reached an annoying level. Like, "Come on man, you've got to know you're good." The humility is genuine. It's real. Kevin Durant may be playing "Kevin Durant" in his new movie, but he's no actor in real life. He's a kind, genuine, unselfish and humble person.
But he's dropping a bit of that aw shucks manner and finally taking ownership of rise to the NBA's Mount Rushmore of current stars.
"I've heard a few times, in three or four years, this league is going to be yours. . . . I don't like that. Because I think I'm established now. My time is now,” Durant said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I feel as though I've proved myself these last five years that I can be one of the top players in the league. I've got a long way to go to being the ultimate best, but I think my time is now. And I'm starting to enter my prime.”
Maybe it's because he reached the near pinnacle of the game by playing in the Finals last season. Maybe it's because he was the go-to scorer on one of the greatest teams ever in the Olympics this summer. Maybe it's because of the All-Star appearances, the scoring titles, the All-NBA teams, and on and on. Maybe he's finally figuring out what we've all known for a while.
Or maybe he's finally just ready to admit it.
"I always felt that I belonged on top with those guys and I just have to continue to keep working to maintain that,” Durant said. “It feels good to be a part of a great group of guys, to do something special for the country. We all respected each other and they never looked at me as the younger guy coming up and waiting his turn. They were just, ‘Go out there and play, do what you do.' And that's what I did."
Durant said in the article that he's felt that way about himself since really the 2011 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, but hasn't ever really opened up about it because “I don't like to talk about myself, but I had to get that out there."
Don't confuse Durant's change in tone though. There's a difference between humility and confidence. And Durant has never lacked in the latter.
It's true though. It's time for Durant and his Thunder. Despite nearly taking the trophy last season his team is still one of the youngest in the league. Doesn't matter to him though. He said after beating the Spurs in the Western Conference finals lasts season that he never bought into the thought that he and the Thunder needed to wait their turn. They're in a hurry to win. They don't have any intention of waiting in line.
The road seemingly was cleared for a return visit for Oklahoma City to the Finals, but the Lakers made waves with their offseason acquisitions. Durant brushed them off a few weeks ago by saying he didn't care. And while he surely had to at least raise an eyebrow, he's not worried.
“We all are going to have to compete. I don't think no team is going to lay down for anybody,” Durant said. “Everybody has got to play and I like our chances.”
The window of opportunity is wide open for Durant and the Thunder. He's only 23 and while he has an impressive and growing list of accomplishments already to his name, he's not letting up and until he tracks down that ultimate goal: a championship.
Still, he's his own man and his own player. He's always battled against letting his achievements and praise go to his head. He might be willing to accept the fact he belongs in a conversation with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant now, but he's no different internally.
Kevin Durant isn't willing to wait. He's not operating on anyone else's timetable. He's not going to hold off until someone hands him the reigns to the league.
He wants to take it. Now.