OKLAHOMA CITY — “It ended too soon. That’s what I’m going to say about the whole experience,” Martin said. “I think the year, we set ourselves up to be Western Conference champions this year. Heading into the playoffs, we was playing such great basketball and then you have a fluke injury. You know that’s part of sports but you never want to think it’s going to happen to you or your team.
“I feel like that’s how our season will be looked at now. It’s more like a ‘what if’ season.”
The Thunder won 60 games in the regular season and had the best record in the West for the first time since 1996, when the franchise was in Seattle. But all that was thrown out when Westbrook tore cartilage in his right knee during the collision with Beverley and needed surgery.
Durant said he’d still look back on the season for the good times spent with teammates and the opportunities for growth, not a simply a wasted year.
“I’m going to be who I’m going to be. I’m not Kobe Bryant, I’m not Michael Jordan, not LeBron James, not Magic Johnson. I’m me,” Durant said. “I’m not going to ever compromise myself or my integrity or what I believe in to win some basketball games or to win a championship. That’s just how I was brought up.
“I’m always going to fight for the game I love. I’m going to claw until the last buzzer sounds. If that’s after the championship, then of course I’ll be happy. I’m not satisfied just being in this league and losing.”
Durant ended up second in the NBA scoring race to New York’s Carmelo Anthony but improved his efficiency, becoming one of a handful of players in league history to make at least 50 percent of his field-goal attempts, 40 percent of his 3-pointers and 90 percent of his foul shots.