(Oklahoma City) After torching his opponents for a playoff high 41 points Kevin Durant meets his mother in the waiting area after the game. A few autographs are signed and Durant leaves the arena, a backpack on his shoulders, a maroon bible in-hand on one side, and his mom on the other side.
The youngest player ever to win the NBA scoring title the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar is a throwback to days of old. Ironically and indicative of just how young he is the players he looked up to growing up are also the stars of today; Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter and the like.
But his style of play is reminiscent of the old school players. “I loved Bernard King, George Gervin, Alex English, (Michael) Jordan, guys that can score the basketball,” says Durant. “I come from a city where guys like to score. That’s the kind of what my game is. I’m a scorer. I like watching those guys (on film) put the ball in the basket, so that kind of gives me inspiration.”
Being around Durant for any amount of time it’s clear his inspiration comes from many sources. He entered the NBA at age 19 and after winning the NBA scoring title at 21 years-old; Durant repeated the same feat at 22. Despite taking a firm hold at the top of the pack in the NBA Durant doesn’t get top billing like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.
“I guess because I’m in Oklahoma City and those guys are in Miami and New York ,” says Durant. “To be honest with you, I really like it that way. I like for people to be surprised that I won the scoring title, that’s pretty cool.”
However, for Durant his greatest inspiration is who he wants to be like and it’s not like Mike, Gervin or King. “There are a lot of great stories in the bible you can learn about Jesus and the walk he chose,” says Durant. “How he helped so many people being the greatest man to ever walk this earth. A selfless person and that’s something I want to be.”
Growing up in the Washington D.C. – Baltimore area Durant now gives back to the community he came from. He turned down a $70 million endorsement contract with Adidas for a $60 million deal with Nike because that was the shoe he grew up wearing. Also, recognizing the Hall of Fame caliber talent of Durant, the Thunder signed him to an $86 million contract extension. He wears the number 35 in honor of his youth basketball coach and childhood mentor Charles Craig who was murdered at the age of 35.
Music is not only a pastime for Durant but also a means of giving back. In D.C. Durant is a spokesperson for P’Tone Records, an after school music program. “I roll with a lot of R & B and a lot of rap music,” says Durant. “I’m starting to get into gospel a little bit more.”
After a long list of accolades including, Rookie of the Year, two-time NBA All-Star, two-time scoring champion and Team USA MVP and gold medalist; Durant came one step short of the NBA Finals in his third season. With a career just starting, a championship and a Hall of Fame ending are not only likely but probable for the humble Kevin Durant.
(Contact Lenn Durant at 303-349-7424 or SportsFlash@aol.com.)