OKLAHOMA CITY — When the NBA’s MVP results were announced Saturday, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant found himself in a familiar spot: second.
Just the seventh player to win three straight scoring titles, Durant ended up behind Miami’s LeBron James in balloting for the league’s top individual honor. It was the second time in the last three years that Durant finished second in the voting, both times beaten by James.
“I’ve been second since high school, man. Second drafted. Second-best player in high school. Second in the MVP votes twice,” Durant said when the Thunder finished practice, shortly after James was presented his MVP trophy in a ceremony in Miami. “I’m over that being second stuff.”
James earned 85 out of 121 possible first-place votes. Durant got 24 first-place votes, was second on 83 ballots and was no worse than fourth on anyone’s ballot — getting just one tally in that category.
Durant finished fifth in the voting last season, when Chicago’s Derrick Rose won it, and second in 2010.
“I’m always motivated. Me not winning MVP doesn’t make me more motivated than I already was,” said Durant, who was picked behind Greg Oden in the 2007 draft. “This is just a great opportunity for us to have a chance to compete for a world championship.
“I just want to go out there and be me. I can’t think about it too much because I didn’t win it. Just go out there and be me and I’ll live with the results.”
Durant said after the season that he considered it his best year yet, and that if he didn’t win the MVP, it wouldn’t overshadow the improvements he made in passing, becoming Oklahoma City’s leading rebounder and shooting a career-best 50 percent.