To commemorate KD securing his second straight NBA scoring title, Nike has produced the Zoom KD III Scoring Title shoe. The upper of the shoe salutes the people and places that helped KD become the best scorer in the NBA today. Kevin debuted the shoe last night against the Mavericks. Take a look at the shoes and see if you can decode some of the details.
While Dirk Nowitzki was on his way to making history, Kevin Durant made sure the game never got away from the Thunder.
That the Thunder lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, 121-112, on Tuesday was about the only reason why Durant’s play was overshadowed by Nowitzki’s 48-point performance, which included a postseason record for free throws made without a miss (24-for-24).
Durant nearly matched Nowitzki basket for basket throughout the night and continued to be as dependable of a scorer as they come en route to a 40-point effort.
Neither Durant nor Nowitzki needed 20 shot attempts to reach 40 points; Durant shot 10-for-18 from the field, including 18-for-19 shooting at the foul line. Nowitzki shot 12-for-15 from the field.
When talking about Nowitzki’s feat, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said: “There are very few guys in the league who can do that and unfortunately for us the other guy in the league who can is Durant and we’ve got to keep our guard up.”
But this was more than just another scoring barrage from KD.
With just 48 hours rest after wrapping up the conference semifinals with a Game 7 win over Memphis, Durant looked as ready as ever. The Thunder captain made his first six shots from the field, including a 5-for-5, 13-point first quarter. And Durant closed the game with a 13-point fourth quarter, nearly willing the Thunder back from a 16-point deficit.
“Kevin was good offensively,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “He had a nice rhythm going and he was attacking the basket and he had his jump shot going. He was making plays.”
Durant played an all-around game on Tuesday, finishing with eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Offensively, just because teammates weren’t able to shoulder some of the scoring load doesn’t mean he plans to change his approach moving forward.
“No matter if they miss 10 shots in a row I’m still going to pass them the ball,” Durant said. “One player, two players are not going to win this series.”
Perhaps the biggest compliment that could be paid Kevin Durant is that everyone expected this type of performance from him.
Game 6 was one of the most forgettable showings of Durant’s young career. He knew it, his coaches knew it and the national media made sure to remind him over the next 48 hours.
But in between the criticisms and mounds of pressure placed on his young shoulders, everyone around Durant spoke confidently – almost knowingly – that he would turn it around and put his teammates in the best position possible to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Even the opposing coach, Memphis’ Lionel Hollins, quipped after Durant’s 11-point Game 6 performance: “He’s saving himself for Sunday.”
The more plausible take is that Durant simply was determined to not let this be the Thunder’s final game of the season.
Durant played like a man on a mission, fulfilling the role of team leader and further cementing his status as a clutch performer. His 39-point performance on 13-for-25 shooting (4-for-9 from three-point range, 9-for-9 from the free-throw line) came in the first Game 7 of his still budding career, a 105-90 romp over the Memphis Grizzlies that set up a date with the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals.
Durant had more points (18) in the first half of Game 7 than he did all of Game 6. He talked about being aggressive this time around, and he went out and did just that.
“I just attacked the basket, tried to get to the free-throw line and get in better positions to score,” Durant said. “My teammates did a better job of getting me in position.”
Everyone worked their hardest to allow Durant do what he does best. Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison set harder screens to free KD. Russell Westbrook hooked up with Durant on several alley-oops and backdoor plays. And Durant, for his part, did not settle for jumpers.
“He showed the heart of a champion,” Hollins said.
And Durant showed it on both ends of the floor.
What shouldn’t go unnoticed were his nine rebounds and three blocks. His second block, which came on a Mike Conley fast break layup late in the third quarter, was quickly followed by a Durant three-pointer in transition that gave the Thunder a 14-point lead during a game-changing third quarter run. KD scored 13 points in the third, during which he displayed his full scoring arsenal, from perimeter shots to attacking the rim to strong post moves.
Afterward, Head coach Scott Brooks couldn’t speak highly enough of Durant, calling him an “incredible human being” and praising his work ethic.
“There’s so many things I’m proud about Kevin but the main thing is he works every day to be a great player,” Brooks said. “He doesn’t take anything for granted. So I knew he would come back and have a fantastic game.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant(notes) ran a brush over his head one last time then pulled the straps tight on his backpack. This was a new selection from Durant’s apparently vast collection of book bags – gray with the initials “K.D.” printed on the back – and teammate Eric Maynor(notes) was needling him about its contents. Two pairs of pants and one pair of Gucci shoes was Maynor’s guess.
Durant smiled, but offered no confirmation. “I always gotta have my backpack,” he said before walking out the locker room doors. Watching Durant in moments like this – long-sleeved shirt buttoned to his chin, book bag strapped to his back – it’s easy to wonder:
Is he going to the Western Conference finals or social studies class?
This is part of Durant’s charm. He’s the assassin who walks away from his kill sipping a carton of chocolate milk. He’d just scored 39 points to end the Memphis Grizzlies’ season in a Game 7 performance so smooth he probably didn’t need a shower â€¦ and 30 minutes later he’s dressed like a sixth-grader.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The future face of the NBA will be, or had better be â€¦ the tall skinny guy walking the mall in flip-flops. He never brings along a posse or a security guard. He usually drives there in a conversion van. He wears gym shorts just in case someone wants to play 5-on-5. His basketball and his high-tops are in the car.
They don’t grow superstars like this anymore. On the team bus, his phone will ring and he’ll say, “Hi Mommy.” His teammate, Royal Ivey, will elbow him and say, “You could be a little smoother with it. Or at least whisper.” But that’s the one of the most revealing parts about him: He hasn’t changed since he was 8 years old.
You’d think leading the NBA in scoring twice by 22 would have gone to his head. You’d think leading Team USA to last summer’s FIBA World Championship would have had him sleeping in. You’d think taking the NBA’s youngest playoff team to the conference semifinals would have lengthened his Q-rating. But half the time on the road, he’s “what’s-his-name.”
He was walking through a Cleveland mall just this past March, along with Ivey and a team employee, when a man rushed up to say, “Kevin Garnett!!!! You’re Garnett, right?”
“I’m Kevin,” he said, politely. “But it’s not Garnett.”
And away walked Kevin Durant, not offended in the least.
The dissatisfaction on Kevin Durant’s face was impossible to hide.
When the Thunder forward took the podium following the Thunder’s 95-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 of a Western Conference semifinal, Durant had a look of disappointment on his face that we’ve probably never seen before. At times, he looked angry. While he spoke with humility, he also kept things in perspective.
“I’ve got to keep it positive, come to work tomorrow and get better and leave it on the floor in Game 7,” he said.
This postseason has been about constant evolution for Durant, who has continued to reach new heights with each passing game, gaining first-time experiences along the way that are helping to mold the psyche and mettle of one of the game’s rising talents. When KD is pleasing crowds and lighting up scoreboards, as he often does on a nightly basis, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 22, in his fourth season and that this is just his second postseason. That’s not making excuses; it’s just adding context to the big picture for Durant.
Over a career, nights like Friday are almost inevitable. It was ugly, yes, and there’s no gentle way of putting it. For Durant, it was a career postseason-low of 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two assists.
Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins described Durant’s performance like this: “He’s saving himself for Sunday.”
Hollins said that lightheartedly but without pretense. You know, and Hollins knows, that Durant having a bounce-back performance in Sunday’s decisive Game 7 wouldn’t surprise anyone.
“He will come back,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s what makes him such a great player – his toughness night in and night out.”
The Thunder didn’t play with much toughness when it took the floor for the second half on Friday. Memphis had already begun to erase a 13-point lead. In the end, the Grizzlies had outscored the Thunder, 51-29, after halftime. The Thunder relied too heavily on the long ball, making just 4-for-25 from behind the arc.
Durant attempted the most, going 1-for-9 from three-point range. That, coupled with Durant’s two fouls in the game’s first 4:23, never allowed him to settle into a rhythm.
“I was just thinking too much rather than playing with my instincts,” KD said, “but I’ve just got to go out there and play my game.”
Believe it or not, one of the hottest topics during the NBA playoffs has been the backpack that Kevin wears to post-game press conferences. What does he have in there? Here’s what he told reporters after Game 5 in OKC on Wednesday.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant was named to the All-NBA First Team for the 2010-11 season, it was announced earlier today by the National Basketball Association.
Durant was named to the All-NBA First Team for a second consecutive season after becoming just the 11th player in NBA history to win the scoring title in back-to-back seasons. During the 2010-11 season, Durant led the NBA with five 40-point scoring efforts en route to a league-best 27.7 point per game scoring average.
The two-time NBA Player of The Month (December and April) led the NBA with 29 30-point scoring efforts and in those games the Thunder posted a 24-5 record. Through his first four NBA seasons, Durant has amassed 8,128 points scored. Among all active NBA players only LeBron James (8,439) recorded more points scored through his first four NBA seasons.
The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
Joining Durant on the All-NBA First Team are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.
KD and his teammate Russell Westbrook are on the cover of this month’s Dime Magazine. This is the first time that Dime has featured two athletes on one cover. Here’s some information on the cover from the Dime team:
To be honest, we don’t know what the NBA will look like by the time the issue following this one hits newsstands. For all we know, the lockout will be in full effect and half the league will be headed overseas to join Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and Ricky Davis. But what we do know is that when play resumes – whether that’s October, November, December, or beyond – the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be leading the pack.
Combined, these two All-Stars are only 44 years old – a staggering fact considering Shaquille O’Neal is 39. And you’d be crazy to bet against them. In last year’s NBA Playoffs, KD and Russ gave the world a preview as the eighth-seeded Thunder pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to six games. Then later that summer, they took it to the next level leading Team USA to gold in Turkey. By the time this season rolled around, it was on.
In the previous 63 issues of Dime, we have never featured a duo on the cover. It never made sense. But when we started talking about who we wanted on the cover of Dime #64, the names Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were inextricably linked. Sure you could make an argument for LeBron and D-Wade, Kobe and Pau, or STAT and ‘Melo as the NBA’s best one-two punch, but all three of these duos are at least 10 years older than KD and Russ. Aptly titled “Generation Now,” the cover story examines just that.
So as the playoffs lead us into the NBA Finals, and the Finals into the NBA Draft, we close another chapter on another amazing season in the 10-year history of Dime. And after spending time with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for our cover shoot, we know that the league is in good hands.