Quantcast 2009-2010 Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant inks max contract

 

Durant speaks softly but carries a big game

 

 

Those that are waiting for an hour-long special on ESPN that will feature Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant announcing his five-year extension is going to be sadly disappointed. But for those that enjoy old school, come to the gym early and stay late, then the NBA’s resigning scoring champ and MVP runner-up is the man for you. Durant’s short and sweet post found on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook said it all: “ Exstension for 5 more years wit the Thunder....God Is Great, me and my family came a long way...I love yall man forreal, this a blessing!” Coming off a season of that caliber for Durant, that included his first All-Star appearance, one might expect a little flashier announcement. But that’s not Durant’s style.

Last season, Durant became the youngest scoring champ in NBA history, leading the Thunder to 50 wins and playoff appearance. This came just one season after the Thunder stumbled to a 23-59 mark. But don’t expect Durant or the Thunder to be satisfied with that improvement or rest on their laurels after extending the eventual two-time defending champion Lakers to six games and coming within a half second of forcing a seventh game. No, Durant is doing the exact opposite. If you turn on NBA TV and watch any of the Thunder’s Summer League games in Orlando, Fla., you’ll see Durant on the sidelines, cheering on and encouraging his young teammates. It’s not common anymore for a young superstar to sacrifice valuable time of their summer to mentor and push their teammates, but Durant is not your common superstar. Durant has been rising at 6:45 a.m. and meeting teammates in the hotel lobby to organize workouts during the Summer League week. It’s that kind of commitment that separates Durant from many of his peers and could very well vault the Thunder to the top of the Western Conference this upcoming season. It’s especially important for the franchise player to show leadership among his young teammates. It can have a lasting impact on the development on the likes of James Harden, Eric Maynor, Kyle Weaver, Byron Mullens, DJ White, etc. If Durant shows he is committed to the team concept and constantly tries to improve his game, he can sell that kind of work ethic and dedication to the rest of the Thunder.

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The perception has been that Durant would bolt Oklahoma City for greener pastures as soon as the first opportunity arrived. But not only did Durant choose not to leave Oklahoma, but he has chose to stay for the maximum five-years without an opt-out clause after the fourth year. "I'm a very loyal person,” Durant said in an interview with The Oklahoman. "People say that might hurt me sometimes, but I think it's a great attribute that I have. By them offering me the max, it shows me that they're loyal to me as well. So I was ready just ready to sign right then and there, opt out or not, and start moving forward.”

 



Anyone that saw the Ford Center crowd in the playoff game 3 against the Lakers can easily understand Durant’s loyalty. White t-shirts were put on every fan’s seat prior to tip-off, and it certainly looked like every fan took advantage of the opportunity to wave it with pride. It had the feel of a college atmosphere, and the noise definitely played a factor in the Thunder’s blow-out win over the Lakers.

Heading into the 2010-11 season, the Thunder has every reason to believe they are ready to make a leap into the Western Conference’s elite. They have a budding superstar at point guard in Russell Westbrook and a solid staple at power forward in Jeff Green. Couple that with a solid supporting cast that includes rookie center Cole Aldrich that is expected to provide solid interior defense and rebounding, the Thunder appear poised to compete night in and night out in the West.

Now with Durant being locked up for the foreseeable future, more playoff wins are hopeful to follow. And maybe even a parade in downtown Oklahoma City in late June.

 

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By: Levi Convirs
ProBasketball-fans.com Staff Writer


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