The day after the Oklahoma City Thunder were ousted early from the 2012 NBA Playoffs, star forward Kevin Durant vowed to learn from the season and not dwell on whether it was a waste.
In his exit interview on Thursday, Durant was asked whether he thought the season was a waste because the Thunder didn't win a championship. His reaction did not mirror that of Kobe Bryant, who once said after a playoff exit that any season without a championship was for nothing.
“Nothing’s ever a wasted year for me. It’s basketball,” Durant said, according to DailyThunder.com. “I’ve grown so much as a man since the beginning of the season. I’ve grown so much as a leader. Nothing is ever wasted. Of course the ultimate goal in this league is to win a championship. But I’m never going to say I wasted a year."
After point guard Russell Westbrook's injury, the Thunder struggled to get past the Houston Rockets in the first round before falling to the Grizzlies in five games. Last season, the Thunder played for an NBA championship against the Miami Heat.
There was only so much Durant could do to carry the load without Westbrook. In 45.8 minutes per game during the five-game series with the Grizzlies, he averaged 28.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists.
"I'm going to be who I'm going to be. I'm not Kobe Bryant, I'm not Michael Jordan, not LeBron James, not Magic Johnson. I'm me,'' Durant said. "I'm not going to ever compromise myself or my integrity or what I believe in to win some basketball games or to win a championship. That's just how I was brought up. "I'm always going to fight for the game I love. I'm going to claw until the last buzzer sounds. If that's after the championship, then of course I'll be happy. I'm not satisfied just being in this league and losing."