If it weren't for LeBron James, this would be Kevin Durant’s league. Since being drafted in 2007, Durant has become one of the greatest modern day scorers and one of the most likeable personalities in the NBA. Durant attended the University of Texas for one year before declaring for the draft, and he was selected second overall by the Seattle Supersonics, behind Greg Oden. It was clear Durant was going to be a star from the get go, taking home the Rookie of the Year award and producing a number of memorable performances, including a game winning shot against the Hawks in November. The Sonics and Durant relocated the following year to Oklahoma to become the Thunder, and this has now become Durant’s franchise.
KD, at just 26, seems to continue to improve in all aspects of his game each year, making him a deadly player and one that causes huge problems for the opposition due to his height (6 ft 9), speed, and shooting ability. His length also makes him an excellent defender, and he is able to play a number of positions too. In the last few years, the Thunder have surrounded Durant with a talented squad, and are now one of the top franchises in a tough Western Conference. They made it to the NBA finals in the lockout shortened 2011/12 season, but fell to the Heat in just five games, and they have yet to return.
It is not just Durant’s supreme on-court abilities that make him one of the most likable players in the league; he is also a modest, down to earth, generous, and positive role model. This is refreshing to see in a league which is generally populated with stars with big egos, so it is clear why Durant is so popular. This is best demonstrated by his moving and inspirational MVP acceptance speech at the end of the 2014 season, with hardly a dry eye in the house by the end.
Although one of the “nice guys” in the NBA, Durant is a fierce competitor with ice flowing through his veins when he steps onto the court. This makes him an interesting character, so here are 15 interesting facts about KD.
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15 He Attends College in the Off-season to Finish his Degree
Now that the “one and done rule” has come into effect, it means that there are plenty of players who attend college for the minimum one year and never look back. Although Durant attended the University of Texas for just one year and he is now a multi-millionaire, he has spent time in the off-season going back to UT to finish his degree. Durant has said that his mother never could return to school as she had to raise him and his brother, so he takes school seriously and is committed to finishing despite being a global superstar. Attendance must be high when the NBA MVP is in the front row.
14 He Plans to Become a Music Producer After he Retires
Once Durant is done tearing up the league, he has aspirations to become a music producer. Clearly a man with many talents, Durant also fancies himself as a rapper and has a number of songs out, including “Whole Life” which features a number of Oklahoma based rappers. There have been plenty of NBA players who have tried their hand at rapping, with quite a few disastrous results, but Durant seems to possess some talent and is keen to enter the production side of things once his playing days are done.
13 His Famous Backpack Contains a Bible, iPad, Headphones and Phone Charger
It is a slightly odd sight seeing KD wear a backpack during press conferences, and when he wears this along with a shirt and tie, he often looks like a keen high school kid. There was a lot of mystery surrounding what he kept in this bag, which he seems to take everywhere with him, but he revealed to reporters its contents after a playoff game. The heavily used backpack contains his iPad and headphones, a bible and a phone charger. KD’s accessory kit ensures that he is ready for any situation.
12 He Became the First SuperSonic to Win Rookie of the Year
Although he only played in Seattle for one year before the team became the Thunder, Durant ensured that he would go down in the Sonics record book. No Sonic player had ever taken home the Rookie of the Year award, so Durant’s incredible first season made him the first and also last to do so, unless the Sonics are re-born. On his way to this award, KD also broke the SuperSonics record for rookie scoring, a record that was set by Bob Rule and lasted 40 years. Had the team stayed in Seattle a few more years, they soon would have had their first MVP too.
11 He Wears Number 35 to Honor his First Coach who was Murdered at 35
In 2005, Durant’s mentor and first basketball coach was tragically murdered. Charles Craig was just 35 years old, and Durant has worn this number ever since in his honour. Not only did Craig, or Big Chucky as he was also known, teach Durant all the fundamentals, he was also a mentor off the court. He would give him money or a place to stay when his mom was working, becoming almost like a father to Durant and helping him to become the man he is today.
10 He Turned Down a Larger Contract From Adidas as he has Worn Nike’s his Entire Life
You would think that most players would opt for the most lucrative shoe contract, but Durant opted for loyalty over money (although there was still plenty of money). Adidas offered a young Durant an enormous 7 year, $70 million deal that included a $12 million signing bonus, but instead he opted for Nike’s 7 year, $60 million deal with a $10 million signing bonus. Durant had spent all of his life wearing Nike and felt comfortable with them, so he turned down the more lucrative offer from Adidas. His Nike deal was still good enough for the second-largest seven year endorsement for a rookie, behind LeBron’s staggering $90 million deal in 2003.
9 He was Friends with Ty Lawson, Michael Beasley and Greivis Vasquez Growing Up
A number of NBA players are close friends with one another and have relationships that go back to college, but Durant has friendships with current NBA players that go back to childhood. He and Michael Beasley have been close friends since they were 11 years old, and he also was friends and teammates with Ty Lawson in high school. He also became friends and teammates with Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez after he transferred high schools. There is no doubt that these friendships helped these players to become the successful NBA players they are today.
8 The University of Texas Retired his Jersey Despite him Playing Just One Season
Despite being a Longhorn for just one season, UT cemented Durant as a Texas legend by retiring his jersey in 2009. There are only two other basketball jerseys up in the rafters; T.J Ford’s no.11 and Slater Martin’s no 15. During his short time in Texas, Durant earned consensus National Player of the Year honors, becoming the first freshman to do so. He also led the Big 12 in scoring with an impressive 25.8 PPG, in rebounding with 11.1 RPG, and total blocked shots with 67. His sensational individual play, and ability to lead the Longhorns, demonstrated that he had the tools to step up to the NBA and make an immediate impact.
7 He Became Just the Third Teenager to Average Over 20 PPG
Most players have a tough rookie season where they struggle to adjust to life in the NBA, and this will often see them have fairly low averages. Durant demonstrated that he was more than ready to become an elite player in his rookie year and that he could score in any league, as he became just the third teenager to average over 20 PPG. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are the only other two teenagers, fine company for Durant to find himself in.
6 He has Giant Tattoos on his Torso
When seeing Durant play, it appears as if he has no tattoos, and this is in line with his clean cut personality. KD actually has what is known as “business tattoos,” which are covered up when he wears his jersey. The tattoos completely cover his back, chest and stomach, and are heavily related to his faith. On his back he has lengthy Scripture, specifically James 1:2-4. KD having ink is not a huge surprise as it is so common in today’s society and particularly with athletes, but it is surprising how heavily tattooed he is, seeing as they are not visible when he is on the court.
5 He Donated $1 Million to the Red Cross for Tornado Relief
The 2013 Moore tornado caused devastation in Oklahoma, destroying streets, homes, and consequently people’s lives. Durant showed why he is such a loved figure in the league by donating $1 million of his own money to the Red Cross for disaster relief, and he did this without publicizing his donation. Not only did he write a hefty cheque, KD also visited the impacted area to see the destruction for himself and meet the locals, and he used his public profile to urge others to donate too. This is just one example of his incredible generosity, which has had such a positive impact on the entire NBA organisation.
4 He has a Wingspan of 7’4
The first thing that people notice about Durant is his length. He stands at 6’9 and has an enormous wingspan of 7’4,” and this is what has helped him to become such a deadly scorer and elite defender. Playing in the small forward position, he can easily get his shot off against any sized player, and his length also allows him to play the passing lanes, block shots, and generally disrupt offensive sets. Durant also has a slender frame, giving him a unique build which has seen him be dubbed a number of fantastic nicknames, including the Slim Reaper and Durantula.
3 He Became the Youngest Player to Join the 50-40-90 Club
At the end of the 2012/13 season, KD became the youngest player (24) to join a very exclusive club in the NBA, the 50-40-90 club. Players that shoot at least 50% from the floor, 40% from behind the arc and 90% from the stripe in a season make up the club, and Durant is just the sixth player to join. He joins the likes of Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki. This demonstrates Durant’s supreme shooting ability from every area on the floor, as well as his efficiency and effectiveness as a scorer.
2 He Played Intramural Flag Football with Oklahoma State Students
Boredom got the better of Durant during the lockout, so he took to Twitter asking if anyone was playing flag football in OKC. Unsurprisingly he got a reply, and went down to play with a bunch of Oklahoma State students. This goes to show that despite Durant being a global superstar, four-time scoring championm and All-NBA First Team player, he is amazingly down to earth and happy to play flag football with strangers without bringing his own security. Hundreds turned up to watch Durant play, and there are photos and videos that have surfaced for what turned out to be an amazing evening for everyone involved. The Slim Reaper also threw four tds and had three interceptions in the game.
1 His Dream was to Teach Kids How to Play Basketball
Kevin Durant’s emotional MVP speech was incredibly moving and gave us a real insight into his life. We learnt a lot about Durant during his speech, who has always been quiet about his life before. One of the most interesting parts was where he talked about his difficult upbringing, with his mother raising him and his brother when she was just 21 years old. A young Durant could never see a way out and aspired to be a rec league coach, helping others to play the game that he loves. Fast forward to today, KD is reigning MVP and inspiring an entire generation not just to play basketball, but to be the best person that they can be.
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