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The Kid Enters the Picture (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday November 6, 2007 12:40PM; Updated: Tuesday November 6, 2007 12:40PM
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Durant (left) has been thrown into the fire by Carlesimo, while his mother, Wanda (right), keeps close watch.
Durant (left) has been thrown into the fire by Carlesimo, while his mother, Wanda (right), keeps close watch.
John W. McDonough/SI

Many a team has been ruined by a vastly uneven distribution of publicity, particularly when the object is so callow; some Bulls deeply resented the notoriety surrounding Jordan, who was practically Lord of the NBA before he played his first game. Fellow rookie Green, the fifth pick, out of Georgetown, says it's no problem for him -- "Kevin and I are both just trying to get by, learn the game, find ourselves as pros" -- but Collison, the starting center and longest tenured Sonic at four seasons, acknowledges the potential for jealousy.

"Sure, guys notice it," he says. "But I don't sense anyone is worried about it. Kevin doesn't seem bothered by the attention, and in some way he's embraced it without being arrogant. But everything is so new here that we're all just trying to find our way. Including Kevin."

Durant's responses are blander than broth, but how much perspective can one expect from a teenager after one NBA game? I just told myself to go out and have fun. I was nervous but the butterflies went away. I learned a lot. There's 81 more games to go, and we're going to get better.

His parents, Wanda and Wayne Pratt, are waiting for him back in the arena. (Wanda Durant gave birth to Kevin before she married Wayne, so the son was a Durant; she changed her name after they tied the knot.) "You played great, baby," says Wanda as her son reaches down to hug her.

Wanda made the decision to live with Kevin this season, but her son was all for it. "She can make me a better person and make the transition easier," he says, "so why not?" It's a one-year deal, up for renewal after this season, but Durant says, "I'm probably going to sign her back up." Wanda, who will travel to several of Kevin's road games this season, says she won't stay if she's not wanted in the comfortable house they rent on a Mercer Island cul-de-sac. "A mother knows when to back off," she says. (Wayne will remain at the family home in Suitland, Md., to support their son Tony Durant, a junior forward at Towson State.)

But doesn't the arrangement hinder Kevin's, uh, social life? "He respects me enough that he does not bring anyone home," Wanda says. When her questioner raises an eyebrow, she quickly adds, "I'm not saying he doesn't meet women -- he's in the NBA, he's young and he's handsome, right? I'm just saying he doesn't bring them home." Kevin later confirms this.


Durant crosses paths with Suns guard Steve Nash before the game at Key Arena. The two-time MVP nods at him and says, "Hey, Kevin," leaving the young man stupefied. "I couldn't believe he knew my name," Durant confides later. Phoenix assistant coach Alvin Gentry is taken aback by his first brush with Durant. "I just saw your two guard and he's taller than anybody we got," Gentry tells Westhead, "so I think we're going home."

Durant's height is striking; last week Wanda suddenly looked at him and said, "Son, you are tall." He always was among the tallest boys his age, yet, fortunately for him, no coach forced him to become a center, allowing him to concentrate on shooting, ball handling and finding seams. Durant is most often compared with Houston Rockets swingman Tracy McGrady, but he's not in T-Mac's league as a pure athlete. "The first player I really followed as a kid was Vince Carter," says Durant, "which is funny because he jumps out of the gym and I can't jump at all."

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