The Oklahoma Thunder’s star forward, Kevin Durant, earned himself a place in NBA history on Wednesday evening (April 14), when he closed out the season as the youngest scoring champ in the league’s history.
The 21-year-old, three-season NBA star finished out the season with a 31-point performance over the Memphis Grizzles, helping his team earn another victory as they head into the postseason.
“It’s something I really wasn’t coming into the year saying I wanted to get, but it feels good to be a part of history and something I’m going to always remember,” Durant said following the game. “It feels even better to get 50 wins.”
Thanks to a late season surge in scoring performances, including three 40-point games in April, Durant locked down the title with ease. LeBron James was on his heels, but after Cleveland decided to rest him for the remainder of the regular season, Durant took it with no challengers in sight.
Durant finished with a 30.1 ppg average, just 0.4 ahead of James. Taking the title at 21 helped him beat out the previous record holder, Max Zaslofsky of the 1947-48 Chicago Stags, who held it at the age of 22.
“I love Kevin Durant. I love what he’s about,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “The guy is pretty amazing, that he’s able to handle himself at such a young age.
“This is the only time I will say that he’s young. He’s 21 years old, but he handles himself with such class and respect for the game, and he’s a great teammate,” the coach continued.
Durant played all 82 games this season and broke the 30-point mark 47 times. He did this despite the popular trend of resting a team’s star after clinching a playoff berth.
In addition to James, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Boston’s three stars (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce) took a permanent spot on the bench to finish out the season. Even San Antonio — which had room to gain in the West standings — played without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
With the accomplish in the books, Durant will now need to focus on the post-season. His Thunder are set to meet defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.