By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – When Kevin Durant joined the talent-rich Golden State Warriors the pressure was on for him to land an elusive title in his first season with his new team but on the eve of the NBA Finals he said the expectations would not rattle him.
The four-time scoring champion is the biggest addition to a team favored to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals starting Thursday in Oakland, and he is not about to change anything in his approach.
“Just approach basketball like I always have, which is with love and care and hard work, and we’ll see what happens,” Durant told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s a team game. I can’t go out there and do everything on my own, or I can’t go out there and just let my team mates do all the work for me. I got to do my part and we all got to make it come together as a group.
“So that’s the most important thing, but individually, just work on my game, like I said, approach the game like I always do, and we’ll see what happens.”
Durant took his former Oklahoma City Thunder team to the NBA Finals in 2012, where they fell in five games to a Miami Heat squad that featured current Cavaliers forward LeBron James.
He was also one win away from returning to the Finals last year with Oklahoma City but they squandered a 3-1 series lead to Golden State, the team he joined a little over a month later.
Durant’s move to Golden State, who won the 2015 title and had a record-setting 73-win campaign the next season before losing the decisive game of the Finals, created a super team that also features two-time reigning league MVP Stephen Curry.
Anything less than a maiden NBA championship this year for Durant, a former MVP himself, would be a massive disappointment but the eight-times All-Star is not allowing himself to get caught up in the big picture.
“I’m just trying to be the best me I can be. That’s the only pressure I worry about,” said Durant. “If I don’t play up to my standards, then that’s what — that’s when I get upset.
“I have bad games, but it’s just a matter of me just trying to be the best me I can be, go out there and work extremely hard on my game and try to showcase it.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)