Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kevin Durant

Kevin Wayne Durant (born September 29, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A 6'9" small forward/shooting guard who is also capable of playing power forward, Durant was the consensus 2007 National College Player of the Year and the 2006–2007 Big 12 Player of the Year, amongst other awards. After a standout freshman season at the University of Texas, Durant opted to enter the NBA Draft,where he was selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics. There he went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after his debut season. In 2007, Durant signed an endorsement contract with Nike. In the 2009–10 season Durant led the NBA in scoring and became the youngest player ever to win the NBA scoring title. He would later be named to the 2010 All NBA First Team.A basketball player from his earliest days, Durant played for a successful Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) youth basketball team, the PG Jaguars. The Jaguars won multiple national championships with Durant and fellow future blue chip recruits Michael Beasley (Timberwolves) and Chris Braswell (UNC-Charlotte). Durant wore, and continues to wear, the No.35 jersey in honor of his childhood mentor and AAU coach, Charles Craig, who was murdered at age 35.Durant later moved on to play AAU basketball with fellow McDonald's All American Ty Lawson (Denver Nuggets) for the DC Blue Devils. After spending two years at National Christian Academy, and one year at Oak Hill Academy, Durant grew five inches and was 6'7" when he started at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland for his senior year, during which he grew two more inches. At Montrose, Durant led the team in scoring and steals and was named the Washington Post All Met Basketball Player of the Year. Durant also played with current Memphis Grizzlies point guard Greivis Vasquez while at Montrose. Vetter described Durant as a hard working player, complete with size, and incredible skills in shooting, ball handling, defense, and even some post up moves. Durant also was named a McDonald's All American and named co-MVP of the 2006 McDonald's All American game along with Chase Budinger. Behind Greg Oden, Durant was widely regarded as the second-best high school prospect.A 6'9" swingman with a 7'5" wingspan,Durant was one of four freshman starters for the University of Texas basketball team. Durant started in all 35 games of the season, which culminated with a loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament to the University of Southern California. Texas finished third in the conference with a 12–4 record and was the runner-up in the 2007 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament.Although he had a slender frame, Durant frequently used it to his advantage by posting up bigger players, while shooting over smaller guards.ESPN analyst Dick Vitale praised Durant as the "most prolific offensive skilled big perimeter" ever and proceeded to compare Durant's game to those of current NBA stars like Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. After a 37-point, 23-rebound winning performance against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, head coach Bob Knight described Durant as quick, fast and mobile, and being "really good".Texas coach Rick Barnes admitted to rarely calling set plays for Durant, instead relying on Durant himself and on his teammates to find him within the flow of the offense.
Coming into the season, Durant was widely hailed by the media as the Big 12's top freshman and a top candidate to be named Freshman of the Year.He averaged 25.8 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game during his freshman season with the Texas Longhorns. In Big 12 games he averaged 28.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. His college career high for scoring was 37 points, which he achieved on four occasions. Durant had thirty 20-point games his freshman year, including 37 in a losing effort against Kansas for the regular-season Big 12 title.In March 2007, Durant was named the NABC Division I Player of the Year, and received the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy, becoming the first freshman to win each of these awards. On March 30, 2007, he was selected as the Associated Press college player of the year, becoming the first freshman and the first Texas athlete to receive this award since its inception in 1961. On April 1, 2007, he became the first freshman to receive the Naismith Award and on April 7, 2007, won the John R. Wooden AwardLess than a week after being drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, the University of Texas announced the retirement of Durant's No.35 jersey. The number will now hang in the rafters at the Frank Erwin Center along with the No.11 of former Longhorn great T. J. Ford.Durant's jersey is now one of nine retired by the University of Texas .Durant declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft on April 11, 2007 and signed his first professional contract on May 25 with the Upper Deck Company, who later heralded Durant to be the focus of their 2007–08 NBA trading card line. On June 28, 2007, Durant was taken second overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. It was expected that either he or Greg Oden, the starting center for Ohio State, were to go Number 1 in the draft. However, Oden was drafted first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. In the proceeding month, Durant went on to sign a seven-year, $60 million endorsement deal with Nike—a rookie deal only surpassed by LeBron James' contract with Nike. In doing so, Durant reportedly turned down a potential $70 million contract with Adidas, opting for Nike since he had worn them all his life.On October 31, 2007, Durant made his NBA debut with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in a loss to the Denver Nuggets. On November 16, 2007 Durant made the first game-winning shot of his NBA career with a key 3-pointer to beat the Atlanta Hawks in double overtime. Durant finished with 21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. On November 30, 2007, Durant scored 35 points to beat the Indiana Pacers. In a game against the Denver Nuggets, he flirted with a triple double as he came up with 37 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. In the last game of his rookie season, Durant finally recorded his first double-double of his career with a then career-high 42 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, and also added 5 assists. In addition to leading all rookies in scoring for the season, he was named the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November, December (2007), January, March and April (2008). Durant's 20.3 point per game season average broke the SuperSonics' 40-year-old rookie record set by Bob Rule during the 1967–68 season. On April 30, 2008, Associated Press reported that Durant was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year Award for the 2007–08 season.

Kevin Durant: Drops 66 points at Rucker Park!
Following the 2007–08 season, the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although Durant was not selected to play in the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix, he did take part in two events. On February 13, 2009, Durant led the Sophomore team to a 122–116 victory over the Rookie side at the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. He was crowned the MVP for the game after he set the scoring record with 46 points, breaking the old mark set in 2004 when Suns F-C Amar'e Stoudemire had 36 for the sophomores. The next day, Durant came from behind to win the first ever H-O-R-S-E Competition in NBA All-Star weekend history, beating out Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks and O. J. Mayo from the Memphis Grizzlies after getting four quick letters early in the game.
Entering the season, the team were not expected to compete for a playoff berth; however, led by Durant, they finished the regular season with 50 wins and earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The 27-game improvement from the previous year was the sixth biggest turnaround in NBA history.
Durant won the 2010 H-O-R-S-E contest to win his second in a row. He also made his first All-Star Game appearance, and coached the rookies at the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. He became the youngest in league history to win the scoring title at 21, averaging 30.1 points per game, beating out LeBron James. Durant also set the modern record for most games in a row with at least 25 points, breaking Allen Iverson's old record.
On April 18, 2010, Durant made his playoff debut with 24 points in a 79–87 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 32 in a 95–92 loss in game 2, but responded with 29 points and 19 rebounds in a 101–96 win at Oklahoma City. He then went on to put up 22 points in the game four win against the defending champs. In game 5, Durant chipped in 17 points as his team lost, 111–87. Game 6 ended the season for the Thunder as Pau Gasol tipped the ball in for a buzzer-beating basket. The Los Angeles Lakers went on to round 2 of the playoffs as they won 95–94. Durant scored 26 points in his last game of the season.
On May 2, 2010, the NBA announced that Durant finished second in the MVP voting for the 2009–2010 season, behind LeBron James.Durant joined LeBron James as the forwards on the 2010 All-NBA First Team, alongside Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, as announced by the NBA on May 6, 2010. It was his first selection to an All-NBA team.

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