The Atlantic

Kevin Durant’s Inessential Greatness

The Golden State Warriors forward is an unstoppable scorer and matchup nightmare—and without him, the team is on the doorstep of another championship.
Source: Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

One afternoon last month, the Golden State Warriors’ star forward Kevin Durant spoke to reporters. The two-time defending champions had just blown a 31-point lead to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, and the questions concerned strategy and morale. Durant touched on the team’s talent for ball movement and his belief that the difficulties were simply a hiccup. But the prime quote—and something like the thesis for Golden State’s next couple of weeks—was less inclusive. “I’m Kevin Durant,” he . “You know who I am.” Over the next four games, Durant poured in 38, 33, 45, and 50 points as the Warriors dispatched the Clippers. Against the Houston Rockets in the next round, he averaged 33.2 points per game, 10 more than his

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