Kevin Durant enters 4th Olympics with all-time Team USA legacy

Jul 7, 2024, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm

Kevin Durant #7 of Team United States celebrates following the United States' victory over France i...

Kevin Durant #7 of Team United States celebrates following the United States' victory over France in the Men's Basketball Finals game on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 07, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — He was in disbelief.

Walking through the halls of the Bellagio after speaking with the media, Kevin Durant is told that while he is in pursuit of a fourth Olympic gold medal that would make him the first in men’s basketball history to reach that total, he would need to extend his stay significantly to catch the Team USA leader.

If the women’s side handles business as usual in Paris, Diana Taurasi will take home her sixth gold. Durant, after he addressed how often people are asking him if this is his last Olympic go at 35 years old, has to stop himself and double check that information in his head.

He does so.

“Damn!” Durant says with a tone that is equally impressed as shocked. Now all he has to do now is come back when he’s 39 and 43 to tie her!

Durant shakes his head with a laugh at the notion of still going at 43.

It’s a funny moment that also covers the misconception that Durant and most athletes in his position are aware of accolades like this. Or care much at all.

When the potential for gold No. 4 was brought up, Durant noted how his content schedule included this consistent theme. A reflexive apology came for overloading Durant on the same topic before he assured everyone it was fine.

“Nah, nah, nah because I think you tend to think about stuff like that and I know it’s important to a lot of people to be the only man to do ‘this,'” Durant said Saturday. “That stuff never really moved me, to be considered that.

“The journey of it all is just cool to me. Just knowing that I got these memories in my head that I can lean back on at anytime, that’s cooler than going to look at the medals, you know? Championships, trophies — I’ll never carry that stuff around. I can carry around the experience with me every day, though. I try not to — I don’t really give a (expletive) about being — I just like that I did it four times and it’s four different experiences that I can talk about and think about and enjoy.”

It is a worthy mindset to represent what the Team USA experience is all about for an NBA player.

Durant’s resume on the men’s side is unrivaled.

Durant is already tied with Carmelo Anthony as the only other men’s player to reach three golds and a fourth would have him stand alone. He’s also got one from the FIBA World Cup in 2010.

Durant enters the tournament as the all-time leader in points (435) and points per game (19.6) while ranking third in rebounds (118) and blocks (16), plus fourth in assists (71).

Durant owns the three highest scoring averages for Team USA in the Olympics, including the current record 20.7 PPG in Tokyo. That 2021 team was a testament to his greatness, a disjointed group that was carried by him and the glue-guy contributions of the just-arrived Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday.

This edition’s squad is the most talented he’s ever been on and will likely require him to be focused on predominantly filling in gaps, which he will surely achieve without struggle. But you better believe that in the few times over the course of the tournament when a game gets tight, Durant will be the one to step up.

Why? No one will be more comfortable than him. He’s done that for this team, one with the highest expectations in the sport, over the span of a decade.

There’s a terrific foundation in place as well. Durant played under head coach Steve Kerr and with point guard Stephen Curry for three seasons. He and LeBron James know each other’s games to a T too.

Everything lines up for this to be the perfect finale. But that doesn’t mean it is one.

As he said, Durant is all about the experience. He rattled off all the places in the world this honor has taken him. The 2028 Los Angeles Games wouldn’t be an exotic location, but rather a bow on his career in his home country. You have to admit, that would be kind of fitting.

Durant didn’t rule out the possibility just yet.

“Keep your body in shape, keep your mind in the right place and you never know,” he said.

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