Earlier in his career, Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant was motivated by winning championships. In fact, the opportunity to win a ring was a huge part of the reason that Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors in 2016. However, that is no longer the case. After winning a pair of rings with the Warriors, Durant realized that titles didn't necessarily equate to happiness. Now, at this point in his career, it's the development of his game that drives him.
"I wasn't expecting to be a happy human being from a title," Durant told ESPN's Rachel Nichols in an interview. "I was just expecting like, you know, the ending of a movie -- once you worked so hard and everybody tells you like, 'Yo, this is what you need to be working for, is this gold ball and these rings.' And I'm just like, 'All right, cool, let me lock in on that.' And I locked in on wanting to achieve that, but I also realized it's a lot of stuff that factors in it that's out of my control.
"And once I won a championship [with Golden State], I realized that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It's not about, you know, let's go get this championship. I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it's not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game."
Durant explained that being sidelined for over a year with an Achilles injury altered the way that he views the game.
"I've been around, been out of the game for two years and having anxiety about like, 'What am I doing when I get back?'" Durant said. "Being out with an Achilles has you thinking about the game differently. And my goal is to be out there, you know. Who knows what's gonna happen when I'm out there. I just want to be available. And I think that's all I really want out of this, to be available for as long as I can. And we'll see what happens between the lines."
Durant may no longer be driven by the idea of winning titles, but he will still have an excellent opportunity to win his third this season, as his Nets look like a legitimate contender.
"I love what we're building. ... Everybody brings their part to it. Everybody's valuable," Durant said of the Nets. "And we're just trying to create something pretty cool for people to watch, and for us to get the players to come play in."
Every NBA player is driven differently, and Durant is obviously entitled to his own form of motivation. Plus, by becoming the best player that he can possibly be, Durant will put himself -- and his teams -- in a position to compete for titles, just as he has done this season.