Ready for stardom
An inside look at Kevin Durant as he shakes off questions about his strength and shyness with a complete game that will carry a franchise
Posted: Friday June 29, 2007 11:18AM; Updated: Friday June 29, 2007 11:03PM
Kevin Durant is not Superman. He is not faster than a speeding bullet and he can't leap tall buildings in a single bound. He doesn't have a secret identity, unless you want to call him by his middle name, Wayne. He can't even bench press 185 pounds. Really. Not once.
Kevin Durant does not have a demonstrative personality. Reclining across two bus seats while en route to an NBA Cares clinic in Manhattan with fellow members of the NBA's Class of '07 on the eve of the draft, Durant is more wallflower than wildman. He smiles as Joakim Noah rambles on about the hordes of crowds the draftees have been engulfed by since arriving in New York City. As the bus rolls down 10th Ave., Durant chuckles as the New York-bred Noah screams at various restaurants and shops that he recognizes. "Yo, KD, that's my pizza place," exclaims an excited Noah. "And my bodega. Man, we hung out there all the time!"
Durant talks quietly with Al Horford about a planned trip to Jay-Z's 40/40 club. Later he casually bites his nails as a reporter seated next to him peppers him with questions, many of which he has heard before and most of which he hopes to never hear again. "You know what my least favorite question is?" says Durant. "Who would you take if you were picking number one? It's annoying. I'm not picking, how would I know?"
He says he hasn't begun shopping for houses in Seattle ("you never know what could happen," he says), but he does know that wherever he lives he will bring his mother, Wanda, and two of his cousins with him. Why? "I need some people my age to hang out with," he says.
Kevin Durant is the future of the NBA. The 18-year-old who looks like a 15-year-old and is being asked to play like a 28-year-old is expected -- maybe even more so than No. 1 pick Greg Oden -- to join LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade as the players who will lead the league into the next decade. It's a journey that began for Durant when he was a junior at the famed Oak Hill Academy, continued at Montrose Christian and gathered steam in one decorated season with the Texas Longhorns.
"It's all exciting and it's all cool," says Durant, a day before he will be selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the second pick in the NBA draft. "But I'm ready for it to be over."
Few doubt Durant is capable of achieving greatness. He has impeccable credentials, including being the first freshman in history to win National Player of the Year, the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award. He averaged 25.8 points (fourth in the nation), 11.1 rebounds (also fourth), and 1.9 blocks at Texas. "He is a tremendously talented player," says Nets coach Lawrence Frank. "There isn't much he can't do."
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