The Durantula wants to be better. He wants to win more. He wants to go down as one of the greatest of all time.
"I want to be the greatest," Durant told The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry. "I want to be remembered as one of the greatest. When they redo that top 50 players (of all time), I want to be a part of that."
Getting there demands Durant win a championship. Or an MVP award.
At this stage of his career, Durant is painfully aware of the holes he still needs to fill. Individual stat lines don't mean everything and are only part of one's legacy. In order to immortalize himself, Durant must take the leap. Somehow, some way, he must win.
But now, I've played in the All-Star Games; I've scored 30 points, 40 points before; had a triple-double before. I feel individually, like stats and stuff, I feel like I did my job with that and I established myself. But it's about winning championships, and the first thing I got to get out of my head is 'I.' It's like, 'I want to win a championship.' It's not about that because one guy doesn't win it, two guys don't win it, three guys don't win it. So it's about the whole team, the whole organization winning a championship.
Absence of a ring aside, Durant is one of the most talented players in NBA history. He possesses a rare combination of length, finesse and explosion—and it shows. In his four All-Star selections and three scoring titles, it just shows.
Only, Durant is playing at a time when no one will ever be better than LeBron James. Not even Durant himself, who has spent much of his life finishing second. From losing to LeBron in the finals to being drafted behind Greg Oden, he hasn't yet had his time at the top.
One of the few ways in which he can distinguish himself is through winning.
It's this obsession with winning, with escaping from the shadows cast by others (mostly LeBron), that has fueled talk of his potential departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016. Free agency is nearly three years away for Durant, but his noticeably bare fingers have us wondering if he will eventually need to leave the small-market, cash-strapped Thunder to find the championship he desperately seeks.
Durant himself admits that he was a man possessed last season, beset by an uncontrollable urge to win a title.
Where will Kevin Durant rank among the greatest players in NBA history when he retires?
"Last year, I was obsessed with it," Durant told Mayberry. "Like, I wasn't going to sleep because I wanted to win so bad. I was screaming at my teammates, at the refs, at the coaches. I got mad because I thought 'if we have a bad game here, we're not going to win a championship.'"
Entering 2013-14, there's still no championship for Durant to point at. And while we know how talented he is, we also know there's no substitute for winning one.
"I mean, at the end of the day, I'm still doing something I love every single day, and I'm fighting for something bigger than myself," Durant said. "And that's a great feeling."
A feeling that becomes much greater with a championship to rest his legacy on.