If you’ve ever listened to Kevin Durant speak, you’ve probably noticed something that is very evident: He loves basketball. In nearly every interview, the Golden State Warriors star mentions his pure love of the game, and of playing it.
And yet, despite that, Durant doesn’t see himself hanging on to his playing days for as long as he can. Instead, Durant sees himself walking away from the game before the game walks away from him. And in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Durant admitted that that moment may come as soon as in five years.
Durant’s reasoning for his potentially early retirement was simple. “This game, your craft, you have to continue studying it,” he said. “No matter how much you enjoy it, nobody wants to be in school that long. I know I don’t. At some point, you have to be ready to graduate. Thirty-five, that’s just a number in my mind.”
Durant will turn 30 this offseason (meaning “retiring at 35” could be five or six more seasons), and is eligible to sign a new contract with the Warriors that would last up to four years. While he’s surely not thinking much about retirement yet, that could potentially factor into his contract decisions, as he figures out how he wants the final chapters of his career to go.
While 35 seems pretty young for a player of Durant’s caliber, five or six more years would take him through his 16th or 17th NBA season, which is one heck of a career. Assuming good health, he would likely become just the eighth player in NBA history to eclipse 30,000 points for his career.
Asked if he’d want to stick around longer and chase Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record of 38,387 (which, admittedly, will likely be surpassed by LeBron James by the time Durant gets there), Durant said that, “I don’t think that’s going to define me as a player. It’s a cool accomplishment to be up there with the greats and to be considered someone who can potentially chase that, or beat that, but I’m not playing for that.”
Whenever Durant walks away from the sport, basketball will lose one of its all-time great players. But that’s still a ways down the road, and Durant - fresh off his second consecutive championship and NBA Finals MVP award - still has a lot of winning left to do.