Who Is Kevin Durant?
Born on September 29, 1988, outside of Washington, D.C., Kevin Durant became a high school basketball star. After playing college ball for only one season at the University of Texas, he was chosen second overall in the 2007 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Durant went on to become a four-time scoring champion for the organization, which became the Oklahoma City Thunder after his Rookie of the Year campaign, and in 2014 he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player. After joining the Golden State Warriors in 2016, Durant led the team to back-to-back NBA championships.
Kevin Wayne Durant was born just outside of the nation's capital, in Suitland, Maryland, on September 29, 1988. As one of four children of Wanda and Wayne Pratt, Durant grew up loving sports with his sister, Brianna, and two brothers, Anthony (also a basketball player) and Rayvonne. His grandmother, Barbara, was a strong influence, telling him that his height was a blessing, even though schoolmates teased him for always being the tallest in class.
Durant's success started with the PG Jaguars, an Amateur Athletic Union youth basketball team in Prince George's County, Maryland. The team won two national championships during Durant's tenure. To this day, Durant wears a No. 35 jersey in honor of Charles Craig, his AAU coach and childhood mentor, who died at the age of 35.
During high school, Durant grew seven inches, to the height of 6'9". During that time, he played for the National Christian Academy and Montrose Christian School, both in Maryland, and for basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, located in Virginia. After his senior year, he was named to Parade magazine's "First Team" list, and to USA Today's "First Team All-American" list, capturing attention from major college basketball recruiters nationwide.
College Career at UT
Durant received offers from top Division I colleges, and although prompted by his friend, point guard Tywon Lawson, to join him and play for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, Durant signed with the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin. Russell Springman, a Longhorn assistant and Maryland native, had been in touch with Durant since his freshman year of high school.
As a Longhorn, Durant started every game during his freshman year of college, averaging 25.8 points per game (first in the Big 12, fourth in the nation) and 11 rebounds per game in 35 games. He scored 20-plus points 30 times, and put up 30-plus points 11 times. He was named the Big 12 Tournament's Most Valuable Player after setting a tournament record of 92 points and leading the Longhorns to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to the University of Southern California.
At the conclusion of the season Durant received the Oscar Robertson and the Adolph F. Rupp awards, making him the first freshman to win both honors.
Oklahoma City All-Star
After just one year of college basketball, Durant declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft. In June of that year, he was chosen second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics. Around that same time, Durant signed a $60 million, seven-year endorsement deal with Nike, a major deal at the time, exceeded only by LeBron James's Nike contract.
Living up to the expectations, the gangly forward averaged more than 20 points per game in his first season, earning the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award. The Sonics then relocated the organization to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Durant emerged as the face of the franchise in its new home, earning his first All-Star selection in 2010. He went on to claim the first of three consecutive NBA scoring titles that year, before adding another in his MVP season of 2013-14.
Durant enjoyed team success with the up-and-coming Thunder, pairing with explosive point guard Russell Westbrook and James Harden to reach the NBA finals in 2012. In 2016, Oklahoma City fell just short of another finals appearance with a tough seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Durant has also played internationally, and was named 2010 FIBA World Championship MVP by the International Basketball Federation. He was chosen for the U.S. basketball team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where the Americans took home the gold medal. Durant returned for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil, and was named the co-USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (with Carmelo Anthony) after leading the team to gold once again.
NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors
On July 4, 2016, Durant made big waves in the NBA when he announced that he had agreed to sign with the Warriors. "The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction," Durant wrote in a post on The Players' Tribune. "But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth."
Durant took a lot of heat for the decision, with critics calling him "soft" for joining an already loaded team, but it proved to be a winning move. In June 2017, he led the Warriors to victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals, scoring 39 points in the Game 5 clincher to cement Golden State's second championship in three years. Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists throughout the series, earning finals MVP honors for his performance. "I knew at some point in my life it would come together for me. I just had to keep grinding," he told the New York Daily News. "I’m at a loss for words."
The following year, Durant showed his leadership when his celebrated teammate, two-time MVP Stephen Curry, suffered an MCL sprain late in the season. Durant carried his team through the early rounds of the playoffs, and with Curry back to full strength, the Warriors swept the Cavaliers in their finals rematch, with Durant claiming his second straight finals MVP award.
The 2018-19 season proved to be the most turbulent one of Durant's tenure in Golden State. Early in the season, an in-game argument between Durant and forward Draymond Green carried into the locker room afterward, with Green screaming and cursing at his teammate. Furthermore, the Warriors seemingly lacked the focus displayed in previous seasons, occasionally losing home games to inferior teams by lopsided margins. Still, the team managed to claim the Western Conference with 57 wins, and they held off the dangerous Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals despite losing Durant to a strained calf.
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