A Look Back at Kevin Durant’s February

Through 54 games played, Thunder forward Kevin Durant still led the league in scoring at 28.5 points per game. He kept up that pace throughout February by averaging 26.8 points in 11 games, including a 43-point performance in a 104-93 win over the New Orleans Hornets to start the month.

But look at his numbers for the rest of the month and one statistic should stand out: those 8.9 rebounds, by far the most he’s averaged in a month this season.

As easy as it is to talk about Durant’s scoring prowess, how he makes putting the ball in the basket look so effortless, one part of his game that often gets overlooked, or even swept under the rug completely, is his knack for rebounding.

Well, it’s actually more of a skill than a knack.

Durant has always been a steady rebounder dating back to his lone season at the University of Texas, where he averaged 11.1 boards a night.

Admittedly, Durant said he got away from rebounding in his first two seasons in the NBA. Now in his fourth season it’s become a point of emphasis, so much so that the Thunder coaching staff has continued to tell Durant that he has the potential to average a double-double.

That was no more evident than the way he attacked the glass in February.

Durant recorded double-doubles in each of the first four games of the month and followed it up with a 16-rebound performance in a Feb. 25 loss at the Orlando Magic.

His length, athleticism, speed and ability to attack the right seams on the floor make him a sound rebounder and the Thunder’s best this season at 7.2 per game. How many other 6-9 small forwards can handle the ball, stretch the floor, play a mean midrange game and rebound like KD does?

Obviously, February was more than just rebounding for Durant, who welcomed in a trio of new teammtes at the trade deadline in Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed after a busy NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, where he hosted a live stream session on nikebasketball.com from Santa Monica Place before hundreds of fans. On Friday night he sat courtside to cheer on Thunder teammates James Harden and Serge Ibaka in the Rookie Challenge. On Saturday he participated in the 3-Point Contest and served as Ibaka’s coach in the Slam Dunk Contest. And in Sunday’s All-Star Game, KD’s second straight and first as a starter, the Thunder forward nearly stole the show with a 34-point performance to help the West top the East, 148-143.

This time, surrounded by the game’s best players, Durant said he felt like he belonged. He certainly played like it.

“I felt a lot more comfortable,” Durant told the Oklahoman. “I think me being a starter helped me out a little bit, and also having my teammate there. Last year, I was a bit nervous just being around the guys. But this year, I felt like I belonged.”

Panini America Inks NBA Star Kevin Durant to Exclusive Trading Card and Memorabilia Deal

ARLINGTON, Texas (February 17, 2011) — Panini America (www.paniniamerica.net), the NBA’s exclusive trading card and sticker partner, has signed Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant as an official company spokesman and trading card ambassador.

Durant’s exclusive multi-year agreement with the company includes autographs and memorabilia, and adds to Panini America’s star-studded roster of NBA talent that also includes five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and 2010-11 NBA Rookie of the Year candidate John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

Durant will make his debut as an exclusive Panini athlete appearing on packaging and in Panini’s Absolute Memorabilia product slated to release in early March at retailers and hobby shops nationwide.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Panini family and join great players like Kobe Bryant and John Wall for this partnership. The idea of being on a trading card with Kobe is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to see it happen,” said Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder.

Panini America is the only company in the world that manufactures fully licensed trading cards for the NFL, the NHL and the NBA, and the company continues to increase its stature with meaningful marketing activation at the most prestigious sporting events in the United States.

“We are excited to add Kevin Durant as an exclusive Panini athlete, Kevin is one of those dynamic players that is fun to watch and is a player that excites collectors. We are pleased that Kevin has now joined the Panini family, he will be a pillar of Panini’s NBA business for years to come,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America.

Panini America became the exclusive trading card partner of the NBA beginning with the 2009-10 season. The Panini Group purchased the industry’s second-oldest trading-card company, Donruss in March 2009 and formed the new subsidiary, Panini America, Inc. Since that time, Panini has taken significant steps to fortify its position on the sports card category as a whole and the basketball landscape in particular, including an exclusive marketing and advertising partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

ABOUT PANINI:
The Panini Group, established almost 50 years ago in Modena, Italy, has subsidiaries throughout Europe, Latin America and the United States. Panini is the world leader in officially licensed collectibles and is fast becoming the most significant publisher of collectibles in the U.S., with official licenses for NBA, NFL, NHL, FIFA, Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., and other key properties from many other licensors. Panini has distribution channels in more than 100 countries and employs a staff of more than 800. For more information visit us at www.paniniamerica.net or www.paninigroup.com. You can also follow Panini America on its official blog The Knight’s Lance http://paniniamerica.wordpress.com/, on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, and on YouTube.

ABOUT THE NBA:
The NBA reaches fans and consumers worldwide through the licensing and marketing of consumer products bearing the league’s trademarks and player attributes. 170 licensees manufacture, sell and market NBA-branded products that are promoted worldwide and sold in more than 100,000 retail locations, in 100 countries on six continents. Major categories include video games, apparel, footwear, sporting goods and trading cards. Thirty percent of merchandise sales are generated from outside the United States. In addition to offering the most comprehensive assortment of NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League merchandise, the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City features multimedia attractions, a fully operational broadcast booth and an official half-court used for special events and regularly scheduled appearances by players, legends and celebrities. More than one million fans visit the NBA Store each year. NBAStore.com is the online destination for NBA fans around the world looking for exclusive team merchandise, memorabilia and unique gifts of every NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League team. NBAStore.com is visited by over 10 million people each year.

For More Information Contact:
Tracy Hackler, Panini America
817-983-0325
thackler@paniniamerica.net

Customize Your Own Nike Zoom KD III Shoes on Nike iD

You’ve been asking about it, and it’s finally here: The KD III is now available for customization at Nike iD. The price point is $135, about $45 more than the standard KD III colorways. However, remember you’re getting your own personalized shoe with some additional options not available on the standard KD III’s. Those options include:

*FULL Flywire (Standard KD III only comes with forefoot Flywire)

*Advanced mid-foot cushioning options (pick between cushioned or responsive)

*Ability to fade the colorways

*Custom numbering and lettering

*Tons of colors give you the ability to make something truly custom.

Customize a pair of your own KD III iD’s HERE.

Nike Zoom KD III All-Star

Here’s a sneak preview of the Nike Zoom KD III All-Star that Kevin will be wearing this Sunday at the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Limited quantities of the shoe will be available at NikeStore.com on February 17th. KD will post links to buy the shoe on his Facebook and Twitter when it drops.

Keeping up with KD: A Look Back at KD’s January

Probably lost amidst the aftershocks of his game-winning three-pointer against the New York Knicks on Jan. 22 at Oklahoma City, after his teammates had swarmed him on the court, after that big-time basket circulated the internet and ESPN, was this:

Kevin Durant had made just 9 of 24 shots prior to him draining the second game-winning shot of his career. Just 9-for-24. When Durant and his teammates were in the huddle and head coach Scott Brooks was drawing up a play with 6.5 seconds remaining, Durant told his coach that he wanted to take the last shot. Brooks later joked that giving the ball to KD with the game on the line was a no-brainer.

The fact that he had a poor shooting night was irrelevant. Durant’s confidence never wavered. His desire to seal the victory with a clutch shot was never in question. The fierce competitor inside of him was on full display. Special players, pure scorers like Durant, never pass up that kind of opportunity.

And so it unfolded: the ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook, who got it to Durant, who took a few dribbles to his right, turned and launched a fade-away three from the right wing as the final buzzer sounded. Nothing but net. Game over. The Thunder wins. The crowd erupts. And Durant walks off the floor like it was just another day at the office. Cool under pressure.

Of course, leave it to Durant to deflect all the attention.

“It’s a lot more than just me making that shot,” KD told the media later that night. “Serge (Ibaka) had a great block on (Amar’e) Stoudemire. Russell (Westbrook) did a great job of stopping Raymond Felton on that last play for us to get the rebound…It wasn’t just that shot that won us the game, but to be honest it feels good. I’ve missed so many of those and to get and to finally make one feels good. Coach drew up a good play.”

The game winner might have been the signature moment of yet an otherwise steady month of improvement for Durant, who actually began the month of January with the news that he had earned Western Conference Player of the Month honors for December.

But January saw Durant take his game to another level.

In 13 games last month, KD averaged a season-best 30.5 points and 7.7 rebounds to go with 47.5 percent field goal shooting, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He helped the Thunder to a 7-6 mark in January, which included a four-game winning streak and two overtime wins.

A few nights after that Knicks game, Durant was at it again, this time matching his career-high of 47 points and setting a new career-high in rebounds (18) in a thrilling 118-117 overtime win in Minnesota. KD pulled the trigger on another game-winner, this time drilling a step-back three-pointer with 28.3 seconds remaining in the extra frame.

The capper for Durant last month came on Jan. 27, when KD got his due by being voted in as a Western Conference All-Star starter for the first time in his career. Durant led all Western Conference forwards in voting and was the second-leading vote getter in the West.

Durant earned his first trip to the All-Star Game last season, and both instances hold different meaning. Last season, Durant was voted in from the other 14 coaches in the West, a true sign of respect from the very men charged with devising a plan to stop or slow him on a nightly basis. This year, Durant being voted in by the fans speaks to his global appeal, something that was strengthened with yet another tour of China with Nike this past summer and the ensuing FIBA World Basketball Championship in Turkey. Now, Kevin Durant has become a household name across the globe.

“To represent Oklahoma City as a starter means a lot to me,” Durant said. “I’ll represent my family. The name on my back means a lot to me as well. I’ve just got to come out there and try to represent as much as I can. Every chance I get, just try to talk Oklahoma City up and just enjoy myself.

“It’s something as a kid you dream about, watching All Star games. To be named a starter this early in my career is something I appreciate. I can’t take it for granted. I’ve just got to continue to keep working to maintain that level every day and that means on and off the court, just being a model citizen in the community and continuing to be the person that I am.”
Continue reading Keeping up with KD: A Look Back at KD’s January

Kevin Durant Named 2011 Western Conference All-Star Starter

OKLAHOMA CITY, January 27, 2011 — Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant received 1,736,728 votes, second most in the Western Conference, and was named a starter on the 2011 Western Conference All-Star Team, the NBA announced today.

“It means a lot to be named a starter,” said Durant. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work and it shows that I have been doing things the right way and I really appreciate the fans for voting for me. It is a dream come true.”

This marks Durant’s second All-Star appearance after being named a reserve on the 2010 Western Conference squad. He becomes the franchise’s first All-Star starter since Gary Payton in 1998. In last year’s game, the forward finished with 15 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

This season, Durant is averaging 28.6 points (1st in the NBA), 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 39.6 minutes in 41 games. He was named Kia Western Conference Player of the Month for December.

The 60th NBA All-Star Game will be played at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, marking the fifth time The City of Angels and the second time STAPLES Center will be the site of the annual celebration. STAPLES Center last played host to NBA All-Star in 2004, and L.A. also hosted the All-Star Game in 1963, 1972, and 1983.

For more information on the Oklahoma City Thunder, log on to thunder.nba.com.

Keeping up with KD: A Look Back at Kevin Durant’s December

As he played his second career game on Christmas night, before a nationally televised audience and in front of a packed home crowd, Kevin Durant later admitted he had a certain feeling that was hard to describe, one generally shared by only the purest of scorers.

It’s the feeling you get when the ball leaves your fingertips and you just know it’s going to rip through the net. By the time you release it the rest is just poetry in motion, as the ball arcs through the air with perfect rotation and glides right through the cylinder. Call it being in the zone, having a hot hand or whatever. KD had it and felt it that Christmas night against the Denver Nuggets, when he poured in a season-high 44 points in a demonstration not only of how he’s come to lead the league in scoring for a second straight season, but also how he’s maturing before our eyes.

“I’ve been working hard, pushing myself lately before and after practice just trying to continue to get better and I guess that’s a result of it,” Durant said that night. “My teammates did a great job of just finding me early and put me in great positions to score easy baskets and I started to get confidence. Coach started to draw some plays up for me and I just wanted to convert on it.”

Durant had a 21-point third quarter and finished with 40 points before the fourth quarter rolled around. But possibly his most impressive feats of the night came in the fourth, when the Nuggets decided to clamp down on him and throw two and three defenders his way.

KD knew he couldn’t throw off the Thunder’s offensive flow by just jacking shots in an attempt to hit the 50-point mark. So he did the smart thing, the team-first thing by drawing extra defenders and passing out to his teammates at just the right time, leaving them with open shots.

“The only thing I was thinking when I got the ball was hockey assists — pass, pass for a shot,” KD said.

It worked to perfection. And it was just the latest example of Durant becoming that all-around player he’s striving to be.

Offensively, December was KD’s best month. Entering the New Year’s Eve game against Atlanta, the All-Star forward averaged nearly three more points per game from a month ago at 29.1, increased his shooting percentage to 51.9 percent through 13 games, shot 39.1 percent from behind the arc and dished a season-best 3.4 assists per game. And KD did it all in three fewer minutes a game (37.3) than a month ago (40.5 in November).

He scored at least 24 points in every game, had two 30-point games and that monstrous 44-point performance against Denver.

Off the court, KD was just as busy.

In a 48-hour span, he was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year for leading Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship. A day later he graced the cover of Oklahoma Magazine as the Oklahoman of the Year.

In the last two weeks alone, KD hosted a holiday party for 120 foster children, saw the release of a special edition pair of KD IIIs and received the second-most All-Star votes among Western Conference players.

So yes, it’s been a fruitful month and an even better year for Durant. And it’s scary to think that he’s just 22 years old.

“Even myself, at times we forget how young he is and he’s been in the league for four years,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks recently told the Oklahoma media. “But he’s still a young basketball player that’s going to get much better as the games and the years go by.”

-Team KD

UPDATE: Kevin was also named NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for December!

Kevin Durant Throws Christmas Party for 120 Oklahoma City Foster Children

This past Saturday KD surprised 120 foster children from Citizens Caring for Children with a Pizza party and Christmas gifts.

Each child received a Nike backpack filled with some of KD’s favorite things. The backpacks included a Nike sweatshirt, Skullcandy Headphones, a signed Kevin Durant Panini trading card, a larger signed photo of KD, an Apple iPod Shuffle and a $10 gift card to the Apple iTunes Store. Children under 8 years old received age appropriate toys instead of the Shuffle. Pizza and drinks were provided by Pizza Hut and Gatorade. The children also received an opportunity to shoot hoops and take pictures with KD.

KD also provided the Citizens Caring for Children with a new flat screen television, an XBox 360, a Nintendo Wii, and games for the kids.

When asked why he created this event KD said:

“As a kid, you really don’t know the significance of what Christmas really means except for getting gifts and being joyous around this time. So, I want them to feel special. Hopefully, this is something that they’re always going to remember for the rest of their lives. I’m happy to say I was a part of that.”

There’s no doubt that KD accomplished his goal with the event, as it was something that all the kids from Citizens Caring for Children are going to remember for the rest of their lives. A special thanks to all that contributed to the event.

Check out some photos from the event below.

Here’s an article on the event from the Associated Press.

More photos from the event HERE.

Nike Zoom KD III Christmas Edition

UPDATE: The Zoom KD III Christmas colorway has hit the Nike Store. Pick up a pair HERE.

Check out the shoes KD will be wearing against the Denver Nuggets on Christmas day. The shoe plays up the yellow accents in the Thunder’s uniform that often go ignored. You can pick up a pair of the KD III Christmas colorway at Nikestore.com on Christmas for $88. We will have a direct link to the shoes for all of you as soon as they are available. Merry Christmas!

Kevin Durant Named 2010 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year

Durant shot a sizzling 55.6 percent from the field, 44.6 percent from 3-point and 91.2 percent from the free throw line during the 2010 World Championship. (Garrett Ellwood/ NBAE/Getty Images)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2010) – After helping the USA earn a 9-0 record and the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and taking home tournament MVP honors in the process, Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) today was announced as the 2010 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Durant said. “My goal was to represent my country to the best of my ability. I really appreciate all of the coaches and players that I got to share that experience with. I am very humbled by this honor.”

Durant averaged a team-best and U.S. World Championship scoring record 22.8 points per game to help lead the USA to the FIBA World Championship gold medal Aug. 28 – Sept. 12 in Istanbul, Turkey. Named MVP of the tournament, he also was a member of the five-person All-World Championship Team.

“Kevin brought maturity and a winning mindset to every practice and every game last summer,” said Mike Krzyzewski, USA Men’s National Team and Duke University head coach. “He was a critical part of our success, and his teammates wanted him to have the ball in critical situations. They knew he’d deliver, and he did repeatedly. Despite his level of accomplishment at such a young age, Kevin wants to be a better player at both ends of the court. He’s motivated, and there’s no ceiling on his game. He’s a very special player and deserving of any honors he receives.”

Durant will be submitted for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 2010 SportsMan of the Year Award, which is expected to be announced in January. The selection was made by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

“Kevin’s performance during the FIBA World Championship was incredible,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO. “He set several U.S. World Championship records, and was an integral part of our young team. USA Basketball is proud of Kevin and the entire team’s effort.”

Starting in all nine games played, Durant also contributed 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game in a team-high 28.2 minutes per game. He shot a sizzling 55.6 percent from the field (74-133 FGs), 44.6 percent from 3-point (26-57 3pt FGs) and 91.2 percent from the free throw line (31-34 FTs).

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