EDMOND — Kevin Durant is trying not to look back. Even as he was peppered Monday with questions about Oklahoma City’s failure to win a world championship last season, he managed to remain focused on the future at Thunder media day.
Well, almost …
“It was just so tough to lose,” Durant said. “I really thought it was our year. I felt we had a good chance after beating Dallas, Lakers and San Antonio. I felt it was our time. But of course it wasn’t. Those guys came out and beat us.”
Now, fresh off an offseason that included winning an Olympic gold and starring in a movie, Durant said he has returned for the 2012-13 season just as energized to not only return to the NBA finals, but to bring home a championship
“We’ve been there and came up short. And that’s tough. It’s not a guarantee you will get there every single year (but) we are hungry and we want to get back,” he said. “Every team wants to win a championship, but we have to take it one day at a time, enjoy this process and know that it’s going to be a tough, long road.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks agrees with his three-time scoring champion. The Thunder learned plenty on the road to the finals last season, but they’ll still have to earn their way back.
“We understand we had a great year. But it’s time to move on. It’s time to focus on this season,” he said. “It was a great experience, but it wont guarantee an opportunity to get back there. We have to work for it.
“We know the West is good and has gotten better. The challenge is ahead and we’re looking forward to it.”
Those lessons learned should make the Thunder’s foundation even sturdier as they look forward to another season.
While Oklahoma City has always been a high scoring, flashy and exciting team, the players and coaches have always talked about see themselves as a blue-collar, lunch-pail team. Now, they understand even more how critical that kind of identity is to gaining ultimate success.
“Every possession is important,” Durant said. “We need everybody to win. It’s much more than scoring points. It’s getting rebounds, getting assists. It’s the hustle points. It’s all about getting down on the floor and keeping this possession alive. Are you going to sacrifice your body for your team?”
Kendrick Perkins wants the team to remember what felt like walking off the court in Miami as the second best team in the NBA.
“I think we all understand what it takes to get there,” Perkins said. “A lot of it was we got caught up with just being in the finals and quit playing basketball. I think a lot of guys on our team grew up last year in a lot of ways.
“We don’t feel like we just want to be in the playoffs and win games. At the end of the day, we are trying to raise a banner or a few.”
Michael KinneyFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org