Durant: Don't need vote for validation

ByMichael Wallace ESPN logo
Saturday, January 24, 2015

ATLANTA -- Reigning league MVP Kevin Durant says a drastic drop-off in fan votes that cost him a starting spot in next month's NBA All-Star Game won't serve as any extra motivation as he tries to lead Oklahoma City back into the playoff picture.

"I don't need the All-Star vote to validate me as a player," Durant said Friday when asked about the perceived snub. "I'm always motivated. This is my eighth year in the league. I've been on All-Star teams before. I've done things in this league. I don't need that to validate me."

Durant's comments came a day after the NBA released the final fan voting totals that determined the 10 starters for the East and West teams that will meet in New York on Feb. 15. The ballot count released Thursday showed Durant received 545,226 votes, nearly a million fewer than he received last season, when he finished second to LeBron James in total votes.

Both Durant and Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook could be added to the Western Conference roster when coaches vote to name the reserves, which will be announced Thursday. The West starters are Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol. The East starters are James, John Wall,Kyle Lowry, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol.

Durant's vote total was fifth among forwards in the West, ninth among players in his conference and 16th overall in the league. It's possible Durant could end up in the starting lineup if he's picked as a replacement starter for Bryant, who the Lakers expect to miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff.

This marks the first time a league MVP from the previous season failed to be voted a starter in the ensuing season's All-Star Game since Dirk Nowitzki won the award and was named a West reserve in 2008.

Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion who has appeared in five All-Star games with four starts, believes injuries that sidelined him for most of the first two months of the season played a role in the voting, with fans allowed to cast ballots an unlimited amount of times. Durant has missed a total of 23 games this season to recover from offseason foot surgery and a December ankle injury.

But he played in his 11th consecutive game Friday for the Thunder, who got off to a poor start while he and Westbrook were sidelined. Oklahoma City has gotten on track since both returned and arrived in Atlanta having won eight of the past 10 games. But OKC still trails Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

"It is what it is. I'm also motivated because I love playing basketball," said Durant, who is averaging 25.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season. "Honest, I haven't played a lot. So it's all good."

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Durant has been playing on an elite level and is no longer on a minutes restriction that limited his playing time during the initial stages of his return from the foot injuries. Durant didn't seem too concerned about whether he would have a role on the West team roster.

"We'll see," Durant said, eyeing a potential vacation during the break. "If not, I'll be at the beach with my toes out."

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