Staying Focused in Turkey

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What’s good everybody? I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but we’ve been pretty busy ever since we left New York City for overseas. If you’ve been following Team USA then you know we’ve been to Spain, Greece and now Istanbul, Turkey for the FIBA World Championship.

Obviously, it’s a little different out here but it’s been a great experience for me. It’s been fun hanging around with these great players. We’ve just really been hanging around each other so I don’t have any good lost-in-translation stories.

The fans here treat us the same though as the ones back in the States and like I said we really haven’t gone out too much to tell you the truth.

But the other day I did have a chance to go to a basketball court dedication in a town called Atasehir, which is in Istanbul. It was technically in Asia, so we actually crossed continents in about a half hour. It was cool, seeing a court dedicated in my name on the other side of the world. I’ll never forget that. After that we went to the Nike “Meydan” store in Istanbul, which really was about the same as any other Nike store back home.

As far as basketball goes, I’m just trying to be a little bit more focused, more locked in. That’s the difference. That’s why I haven’t been Tweeting or anything like that. I’m just trying to take a different approach because we’re out here on business. I do have my mother out here with me so that’s been nice. Other than that, I keep in touch with friends and family every so often.

The international crowds are a bit different out here, too. The arenas are smaller and it’s very loud in there but it’s pretty cool to play in. As the weeks have gone by I’ve started to get acquainted to the FIBA style of play and the officiating.

The knockout stage begins for us on Monday, so I’m very excited for that. It should be a lot of fun and a great challenge for us. Our practices have been really intense and focused. We’re just ready to play.

Make sure you keep up with Team USA during this final week of play. We’re aiming for the gold medal! I’ll probably talk to you guys after the tournament is done. In the meantime, hit me up in my comments section. Anyone been to Istanbul before?

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Getting Ready For Some International Hoops

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What’s going on everyone? I’m in Madrid, where me and the rest of the U.S. team will have two exhibition games to prep for the FIBA World Championship tournament later this month. We left for Spain from Newark yesterday afternoon, so we’ve been nonstop busy for the last week.

I’m really looking forward to this whole experience. It should be a lot of fun. I’ve never been to Europe, never been to Spain, never been to Turkey or Greece. I’m looking forward to that and just being able to interact and be around some of the best players in the league. Guys like Rudy Gay, Iguodala, Rajon, Lamar…just to be with those guys and learn, it’s going to be pretty cool and it’s going to help me.

This past weekend I got a chance to take part in the World Basketball Festival. I made a trip to Harlem over the weekend and made my first visit to Rucker Park, which was amazing. It was something I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while. Y’all know how much I love street ball, so I definitely had fun while I was up there. There was some great talent up there. The MC on the microphone was pretty good, too. The crowd gets into the game and that gets me hyped as well. Hopefully I will get to play there soon. I’ll definitely try to get up there next summer and play.

After watching games at The Rucker, I went to the House of Hoops in Harlem, which is right across the street from the Apollo Theater. I’ve been to that House of Hoops a few times though, so I knew the area a little bit. People show me a lot of love in there. We had a nice turnout at the store, something like a hundred or so fans packed in a small place. It just shows that if I continue to work and continue to grow as a player people will start to recognize who we are. I think that playoff series against the Lakers helped as well just because people got to see us more on TV. It was pretty cool. I’m blessed to be a part of something like this and I’ll continue to be grateful.

Well, I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging while overseas, so if you don’t hear much from me just follow the U.S. team throughout the tournament. We’re gonna do our best to represent!

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Good to Spend Some Time Back In D.C.

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What’s good everyone? Before I got out here to New York I was able to spend some quality time back home in the D.C. area. The biggest highlight was making it out to my old hangout, the Seat Pleasant Activities Center.

When I think back to that place, I just think back to my whole childhood. I used to spend all day, every day there. That gym was my home. That place was more than just me going to play basketball. The first time I got in the league, I wanted my first check to go to Seat Pleasant. The activities center just recognized me for a donation I made and I’ve got to thank Nike and some of my sponsors for doing a great job of helping me with that because I’m very blessed to have an opportunity to give back to a place that gave me so much.

I actually made the donation to them a little while back but they were waiting until they got something done to make an announcement. I never had a timetable for them to get something done but they wanted the best for the kids and that’s what I’m all about.

They actually named the gaming center and lounge area “Durant’s Den,” which was very nice of them. They put my name on the top of the glass, which was pretty cool. The actual room was there when I was a kid but it wasn’t that big of a space and there weren’t many games there. I remember there was a TV in there and a ping pong table. It was just a nice place to enjoy each other’s company when you couldn’t go in the gym. 90 percent of my time I was in the gym and the other 10 percent I was in the game room.

I also made a trip to Capitol Hill and the House of Representatives for the Congressional Fitness Caucus in late July. Gatorade and NBA FIT hooked me up with the event. It was pretty cool but I wasn’t dressed for the part! I ended up wearing some Dunks, a white t-shirt and some basketball shorts.

But I met a lot of nice people and there were some very important people there, too. I’m really not into politics but to go there really put everything into perspective for me. It was pretty cool to see. I know that fitness and nutrition is very important, especially for the younger kids. I just wanted to get that point across.

Whenever I’m in D.C. during the summer I make sure to get some runs in down at the Goodman League. It’s been a busy summer for me, so I haven’t been able to get down there as much as usual. But it was still fun too hoop a bit with my Goodman League fam. Check out this video from my time down there this summer:

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to get up some more blogs up for y’all over the next few days.

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Wale’s Mixtape and Madden 11

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What’s going on everybody? I’m just out here in New York City for this USA Basketball training camp, working hard every day and trying to get ready for the World Championship in Turkey.

I’m sure some of you heard by now that I had a guest spot on the new Wale mix tape. Wale is like my family. We’re both from D.C. and we’ve known each other for a while now. He reached out to me a few months ago asking if I wanted to be on his mix tape and I really didn’t know what to say. H told me not to worry about it.

Really, I just wanted people to see another side of me. It was pretty cool and I’m grateful for him letting me be on it. It felt good to get this opportunity. If anybody wants to hear me, go get that mix tape. We laid it down just before I went to Vegas for the first USA training camp. People have been asking me if I was nervous, but to tell you the truth I really wasn’t at all. I felt comfortable being around the mic, plus I’ve got my own studio that I like to mess around in back in Oklahoma City. So I just went with the flow. It wasn’t like I was rapping. The words just kind of came to me. Besides, I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna boast about myself.

While we’re on the topic of music, I also got involved with P’Tones Records out in L.A. with Wale and Kenny Burns. I’m partnering with them to build a music studio for high school students in the D.C. area. I just want to see kids, especially ones in the D.C. area, gain more knowledge on how to make music and be producers or singers or rappers. I wanted to help people out so that we have more people get into the music industry out of D.C. You can help us raise money for the program by voting for P’Tones Records to win a Refresh Grant HERE.

Aside from that, I’ve just been doing my thing. Because I’ve got something going with EA Sports, one of my guys there hooked me up with the new Madden football game a few weeks back, so I’ve been hooked on that.

A big thanks to EA again for that because I love Madden. EA Sports puts out some good games and each year Madden keeps getting better and better. I’ve been playing my father and my brothers for a week or two now. I also had a little fun talking trash on Twitter with my friend Bow Wow about Madden. He thinks he can beat me, but no way that’s happening! I’ve got a pretty good handle on it so I’m looking forward to playing some of my teammates when we get together again. This year’s Madden is definitely tougher than last year’s game. And you know I always going to play with my ‘Skins.

So are any of you aspiring musicians or producers? And has anyone else got the new Madden? What do you all think? Let me know in my comments section.

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In NYC For USAB Training Camp and the World Basketball Festival

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What’s good everybody? I’m out here in New York City for another week of training camp with USA Basketball before the World Championship in Turkey later this month. I took a train into the city from D.C. last night, so I’m ready to go.

This is going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to competing. I never had a chance to compete for a gold medal before and that’s why I’m going to go out there and play my heart out and have fun. This will be a good little warm-up before going into the regular season, too, so we’re all excited about representing our country as well.

The USA coaching staff actually sent us home from Las Vegas with a FIBA regulation basketball to practice with and I’ve been working out with it every day these last couple of weeks. I’m just trying to get more comfortable with it since it’s a different basketball than what we have in the NBA. The FIBA ball is just bouncier, more slippery and it doesn’t have as much grip as an NBA ball. It’s not what I’m used to. And it’s a little lighter as well. A few more days and hopefully I’ll be good.

I’ve been prepping for the week by working out at home, mostly with Jeff Green and Corey Brewer. We’ve been having some good workouts and they’ve definitely gotten me a lot better these last couple of weeks heading into training camp.

I’m sure you all know I’ll be out here with some of my Thunder family. Me, Jeff and Russell are trying to make the team that will head overseas in a week. We just want to go out there and try to help contribute. It would be cool to see all three of us out there representing the U.S. but we’re just going to play our hardest and by the end of the week, whatever happens, happens. Those guys are my brothers and it would be great to represent out country together. We’ll see what happens.

I’m going to try to get a few more blogs up this week in NYC. We’ll have a lot going on from practices to the World Basketball Festival, so stay tuned!

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The Final Word on My Contract Extension

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What’s going on everyone? Our USA Basketball training camp is winding down here in Vegas, and Thursday was very memorable because I was able to share the court with two of my teammates, Jeff and Russell, for a few minutes during a scrimmage against the Select Team. It was pretty neat to be out there with the guys. We’re just trying to represent OKC and USA!

We also had a pretty good practice before we scrimmaged, focusing mostly on defensive schemes and roles. I was trying to get after it on the defensive end when it came time to play. I know I got a bit better as a defender last season but I know there’s always a lot of room for improvement.

I gotta say, there’s been quite a bit of media out here this week. It seems like there’s new reporters every day. So of course I’m getting a lot of the same questions, and one big one I keep getting is how I handled my contract situation. I know I haven’t blogged about my contract extension, but I think I owe it to you all to let you know how it went down and why I handled it the way I did.

First off, I’ve always said that Oklahoma City is a place I want to be and I couldn’t imagine not playing for the Thunder, especially with these great teammates and coaches and support staff. So when I got approached with a contract extension once negotiations could start, signing it wasn’t a very hard decision. It was really a no-brainer. If people were paying attention to what I’ve been saying for the last three years, then they’d know my heart has always been with the Thunder. This organization has been moving in the right direction since the day I got here.

Now as far as announcing my signing through Twitter…..c’mon, what else would you expect?!?! You all know how much I love Twitter and Facebook and social media in general. I’ve met so many fans through social media. That’s how a lot of us athletes connect with fans in this day and age. I love giving out free tickets or Nike gear and answering all your questions, even the crazy funny ones. So I didn’t think twice to announce my contract extension through Twitter. I wanted to make sure all my fans and supporters were the first to know, and most importantly to get the news straight from me!

Now, the friends and family and fans who know me weren’t surprised that it’s how I let everyone know. But some people keep asking why I didn’t announce it on national television or something like that. I really get a laugh out of that. I keep telling people how my situation was much different from all the other big names out there. First of all, I was just up for a contract extension. LeBron, Chris Bosh and D-Wade, those guys were unrestricted free agents, so there was more hype with their decision, more people who wanted to know what was gonna go down. That’s a big difference.

And as I told someone the other day, LeBron James is the biggest name in sports. Nothing he does is ever going to go quiet. You can’t blame him for what happened and how he made his decision. Again, my situation was totally different.

But whether I signed the contract extension this summer or next summer, once I stepped on the floor here in Las Vegas for this Team USA camp, everything else went out the door for me. I’m always focused on what’s in front of me. Of course I’m glad the contract is done. It’s a blessing. But to be here right now, I just want to be focused and try to do something I’ve never done before, which is play for the USA team.

So hopefully that explains everything for y’all. I’ll try to get another blog up before we leave Vegas this weekend.

Take care!

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Training with USA Basketball

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What’s good everyone? It’s been ridiculously hot out here in Las Vegas, where I’m training with USA Basketball for a spot on the National team that’s going to Turkey for the World Championships next month.

I know everyone’s saying that I’m a lock to make the team but that hasn’t stopped me from going all-out during practices and scrimmages. I just want to prove that I really belong.

Today is the third day of camp and it’s been a lot of fun so far. It was kind of like getting thrown into the fire a little bit, the coaching staff kind of testing us out and seeing where we were conditioning-wise. Some guys are in great shape and some guys are just getting their feet under them. I’ve been working hard for this moment, so I’ve been feeling pretty good out there.

I’m just extra motivated to be able to represent the USA and help bring back the gold medal. We haven’t won the FIBA World Championships since 1994! I was just a little kid then.

Some reporters have told me this week about just how close I was to making the 2008 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Beijing, and to be honest I didn’t realize how close I was to getting on that roster. I was just going out there playing hard and trying to learn as much as I could. Of course I wanted to be on that team. Who wouldn’t want to win a gold medal? But it was still an honor to be a part of the Select Team that helped get the Redeem Team ready for the big show.

Even though we weren’t there to win the gold medal, we felt like we helped those guys out and hopefully I’m a part of a gold medal-winning team in the very near future.

One thing I’ve got on my side is experience with the National team. This is my fourth summer training with the USA Basketball program, so I know a little bit more about what they want me to do than some of the other guys. And I’m a natural leader. I lead by example. If I see something I can help my teammates with, I’ll talk as well. I just want to go out there and be the best player I can be and just come out there and help everybody out, because I know they’ll help me out as well.

It’s also been pretty cool to have my teammates Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook in camp as well. I can’t describe how incredible it would be for all three of us to make the roster this summer. We also have our team trainer out here, Joe Sharpe, so the Thunder has been well represented. Not to mention that a bunch of our coaching staff and front office has stopped by through the week as well. We really appreciate that kind of support.

I’m hearing that LeBron and D-Wade are going to be in town this week. I already saw Chris Paul, so being able to catch up with those guys and hear what they have to say about representing USA in a big tournament will really mean something.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to put up another blog before Friday’s practice. I’ve been getting so many different questions — and so many of the same questions — that I might have to share some stuff with you guys.

Take care y’all!

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Video Clips From My Basketball Camp in OKC

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What’s good everyone? Check out some flip cam clips my friends and family shot at my basketball camp in OKC a couple of weeks back. I had a ton of fun out there and am already looking forward to next year’s camp.

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Read my blog post about the camp experience HERE.

THUNDER UP!

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Drake’s New Album and My Music

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What’s up everyone? I hope you all had a safe and fun Fourth of July Weekend. Right now, I’m just out in Orlando supporting the Thunder Summer League squad. I think the games are going to be on NBA TV, so make sure you watch all of our games this week.

Y’all know how much I like my music, and right now I’ve been listening to the new Drake and Dream albums.

On Drake’s album I’m really feeling tracks like “Karaoke,” “Miss Me” with him and Lil Wayne, “Light Up” and “Fancy” with T.I. It’s got some tight tracks and it’s a real diverse album; he went from Jay Z to down south with T.I. to Swizz Beats, who’s from New York. I know a lot of people had some negative things to say about it but I think the positive reviews definitely outweigh the haters.

Other than that, I want to let you know that I’m back to making my own music, and I actually made a nice little beat the other night.

I just laid down a track from an original beat that I think you’re all going to like. I’ve got stuff sampled that I want to finish but this was an original. All of my beats are a lot of melodies, loud kicks and a good snare. But this one is a mix between a party beat with a little D.C. flavor to it as well. It’s very up-tempo and it’s something that’s going to get your head bopping. So hopefully when I post it on my site you guys will enjoy it and give me some feedback. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, what are you all listening to? Anything I’m missing right now? Let me know in the comments section.

THUNDER UP!

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Having Fun at my Basketball Camps

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What’s good everyone? I’m in the middle of running my basketball camp back here in Oklahoma City and these little kids are keeping me busy!

I got to do a little crowd pleasing the other day when I hit a half court shot over my shoulder. Yesterday, I hit another one, but it was just a regular half court shot. Honestly, I haven’t had much luck with half court shots in the past, so these were pretty sweet. Hey, I’m trying to give these kids a show and they wanted to see something spectacular. The shot was on point and it brought a smile to my face when they all went nuts.

This is the second year I’m holding a camp and to be honest I’m getting more comfortable with kids as the years go on. Of course I accomplished a little bit more in the last year so more kids want to come out. I’m just excited to have this opportunity to interact with kids. I love it. It’s always fun to come in here and teach them about the game and also just have a good time with them. Sometimes I’ll take a seat at half court, grab a microphone and be the MC, giving commentary on some of the scrimmages going on. And every now and then a kid will just pull up a chair and chill with me.

But some of these kids say some crazy things, man! Today some kid asked me why we didn’t trade Eric Maynor for the 10th pick in the draft. I was like, man these little kids watch a lot of TV! That was pretty funny to me.

I’ve got to give thanks to Pro Camps, who helped put my camp together, and to Heritage Hall High School for letting me have it here. That high school is nice!

I’ve been going from one camp to another this week. I came to Oklahoma City straight from the Nike Skills Camp in Chicago, which featured some of the best high school and college players in the country. I got a chance to share some of my knowledge with them and I really got after it on the court, too. I just wanted to get better and I know those guys make me better. But overall it was cool to meet some of the top high school kids who are going to be the next tier of guys who come into the league. There was a lot of talent there.

Well, today is the last day of my camp, so check my blog this weekend for a another post.

THUNDER UP!

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