Kevin Durant Talks About the Thunder Training Together this Off-Season

While on the set of his Basketball Never Stops commercial, KD sat down with Nike Basketball to talk about the importance of his teammates training together during the lockout.

Despite being locked out, KD and his Thunder teammates got together to hold mini-camps in Austin, Lexington and OKC. Hopefully that gives them a heads up on other teams when the season starts.

Video: Thunder Fans Greet Thunder Players at Airport After Game 5 Loss

After the Thunder’s season ended in the Western Conference Finals, 500 plus OKC Thunder fans gathered at the airport to greet the players and staff as they returned to Oklahoma City. Is there any question which team has the best fans in the NBA? Check out the amazing footage below.

Video: Outside the Lines story on Oklahoma City and the Thunder

Great story from ESPN Outside the Lines on Oklahoma City and what the Thunder meant to the city following the tragic bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

Via Daily Thunder

Keeping up with KD: A Look at Kevin Durant’s Start this Season

Keeping track of Kevin Durant isn’t what it used to be a season ago.

Last year, the Thunder forward was lighting up the league from every spot on the perimeter, draining long balls, pull-ups and swishing baskets off curls en route to an unforgettable season in which he became the youngest scoring champion in NBA history.

Durant became synonymous with scoring.

This year has been slightly different.

Durant has still lit up scoreboards with a league-leading 27.4 points per game. But the fourth-year forward, coming off a memorable summer, has done a much better job of stuffing the stat sheet altogether.

Now those big buckets have been accompanied on a regular basis with about a half dozen boards, a couple of dimes, at least a steal a game and several other plays that never make the box score. Through the first month of the 2010-11 regular season, KD has shown that he’s learning how to impact the game in a myriad of ways.

Take the Thunder’s Nov. 29 win over the New Orleans Hornets, for example.

The game came down to the wire. Down by four points with a little over five minutes to go, the Thunder needed defensive stops. So head coach Scott Brooks put KD on the Hornets’ biggest inside threat in David West, a former All-Star who knows how to bulldoze his way into the paint for points.

All KD did was hold his own against West, using his length to challenge shots and his toughness to keep West from getting to the rim. Durant single-handedly made three straight defensive stops — he challenged a shot, blocked another and then rejected an Emeka Okafor shot — that sparked the Thunder to a 95-89 victory.

After the game, Brooks reiterated how all along he had confidence in Durant to make defensive plays down the stretch, and even reminded the local media how Durant had been the team’s best defender throughout the previous week.

Those defensive stops complimented Durant’s 26-point, 11-rebound effort.

“I was just trying to play my hardest and prevent him from getting easy scores,” Durant said after the game. “I think I did a decent job. My teammates helped me out a lot. I was just trying to play as hard as I can. My shot wasn’t going so I decided to keep playing hard on both ends and see if I would start to come around.”

That’s just one example of how Durant has shown how he can affect a game outside of his natural scoring ability. It’s part of the evolution of Durant, who himself would admit that he’s the furthest thing from a finished product.

The All-Star nod, the gold medal at the World Championship, the constant praise by the media for being the next big thing — Durant acknowledges it and continues to push forward with his development. You all know by now that he’s never satisfied.

It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride for Durant this season. Minor ankle and knee injuries have held him out of four games so far, but even when he’s not in uniform he’s still being the consummate teammate, applauding and dishing advice at any chance possible.

For the 18 games he has been healthy, Durant has continued to make his mark.

He appeared in his 250th career game earlier this season. By comparison, only two other active players (Shaq and LeBron) have scored more points through the first 250 career games than Durant (6,360 points at the time).

Durant has already led the Thunder in scoring in 14 games, has recorded three double-doubles and has scored more than 30 points in seven games.

One area he’s improved in has been at the foul line, where KD is shooting an NBA-best 92.3 percent from the charity stripe. Durant has been to the foul line more than 10 times in nine games, and he’s gone a perfect 16-for-16 from the line in two games.

All that goes to show is that even when KD’s shot isn’t falling, opponents still struggle to contain him.

-Team KD

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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Are You Ready For Draft Night?

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What’s up everyone? Hope you’re all having a good week.

Well, the NBA Draft has finally arrived! Or it’s at least about to in a couple of hours. If you’re a basketball junkie then you’ve got to be pumped for tonight.

But before we get into that, I just want to give a few thoughts on last week’s NBA Finals. Being the competitor that I am, it was disappointing because, of course, I wanted to be a part of that. Obviously, it didn’t turn out that way. But on the same note, it was an inspiration to watch. If I want to get to the Finals we just have to go out there and work harder than we already are.

I know a lot of critics were saying how sloppy of a series it was, but at the end of the day I think it was played the right way. It was hard-nosed basketball and no shots were easy. Guys fought hard, fought through adversity and it was fun to watch. That seven-game series was really a grind and I don’t remember the last time that happened in the Finals. It was really a joy to watch. Again, it was disappointing not to play in it knowing you had a chance to, but it is what it is. We’ve just got to keep working.

Now, about the NBA Draft.

To be honest, I really haven’t given it much thought. I know a lot of people have been asking me who I think the Thunder will take and really, I have no clue!

I’m just looking forward to whoever we get to be a good teammate and to be able to fit in with us. We’re looking for guys that have that Thunder mentality, which is team first! I’ll be watching it because obviously you never know what could happen. A trade could come, you never know. I’m just going to be all eyes and ears and whoever we choose I’ll be ready to go out there and have him as my teammate, so it should be a fun time for whoever gets drafted.

Last year I was at Texas for summer school watching the draft from the locker room after a workout. When we got James Harden I was very excited. I’m excited to find out who we pick up today.

Every year that’s a dream come true for somebody. It brings back memories for me every time I watch the draft. I know that might sound silly because I was drafted only a few years ago, but it’s true. I was with my friends and family when I heard my name called and I’ll always remember that moment.

I want to wish good luck to my Texas bros Avery Bradley, Dexter Pittman and Damion James. I also want to wish good luck to my high school teammate and good friend Greivis Vasquez.

So have you guys filled out any mock drafts? Are you looking forward to the draft? Let me know in the comments section.

THUNDER UP!

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Fans: Be sure to check out Kevin on Twitter and Facebook.

Keeping up with KD: Ready for Game 5 in L.A.

Kevin Durant has continued to find ways to help his team win.

We saw KD flash his defensive prowess in the Thunder’s Game 3 win over the Lakers, when the league’s leading scorer helped shutdown one of the game’s all-time greatest scorers in Kobe Bryant, holding the Black Mamba to just four points in the fourth quarter as Durant used his length and athleticism to put the brakes on the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

Critics said that KD and the Thunder had officially arrived on that night.

If so, then what to make of Oklahoma City’s Game 4 win over the Lakers two nights later at the Ford Center?

The national media, both print and broadcast, praised the Ford Center for its earsplitting noise and unwavering support. Game 3 was a sea of blue at the Ford Center, Game 4 was a whiteout and of course there were scores of KD jerseys in the house.

But KD and the Thunder have been all about the team since day one. It’s why you hear Kevin thank his teammates time and again after a big scoring night. They all support each other. Heck, even Kevin’s mom sported a Serge Ibaka jersey at Game 4. KD’s mom was flanked by his two grandmothers, both of who could hardly contain themselves.

And while KD dropped a game-high 22 points, including 9-for-11 from the free-throw line, it was his four rebounds and two blocks that were just as important.

Of course, the game was flush with some highlight reel plays by KD.

His thunderous, cocked-back one-handed fast break dunk not even five minutes into the game gave the Thunder a 9-8 lead, one that it would never relinquish. The Ford Center crowd ate that one up, and KD acknowledged them by letting out a roar of approval himself and a glance at the crowd.

And then there was KD’s pull-up three-pointer late in the third quarter that gave Oklahoma City a 20-point lead. KD stepped into and shot that one with such confidence, as if he knew it would scorch through the net.

The Thunder had built such a lead against the defending champs that KD was able to rest the entire fourth quarter. Afterward, a reporter made mention of KD finishing eight points under his regular season scoring average, to which head coach Scott Brooks replied jokingly, “KD, eight points under his average, I don’t know. We’re going to have to work on his offense.”

Even with the physical, defensive-minded Ron Artest guarding him, KD has continued to run him off screens and gain as much separation to get good looks at the basket.

But it still must feel good to be able to help your team in a variety of ways.

And all it’s done is inject even more confidence into KD and his teammates. He might only have four playoff games under him, but KD has become a fast learner.

And even though the Thunder lost those first two games in L.A., it will roll into the Staples Center on Tuesday night knowing that it has as good shot at stealing Game 5 on the road.

“We knew what we are capable of from how hard we play every day and how hard we practice every day,” Kevin said. “So with those attributes I think we can go far as a team. It’s all on us. We control our own destiny at this point and we’ve just got to continue to bring the effort every day.”

KD and his teammates will be ready.

-Team KD

Keeping up with KD: Mr. Durant is adjusting to the postseason

You’re seeing a different side to Kevin Durant right now.

The national spotlight is shining bright on him and his Thunder teammates. As the league’s youngest scoring champion in decades, his every move is being dissected and analyzed. Everyone wants to talk to him. Most of the questions are repetitive, the answers regurgitated. Obviously, because it’s the playoffs the stakes are so much higher. So KD is learning how to adjust.

He’s keeping his small circle of family and friends close to him. Twitter and his blog can wait until the offseason. KD just wants to focus on winning games.

He and his Thunder teammates got their first win of its first-round playoff series against the defending champion L.A. Lakers in Game 3, outlasting them, 101-96, before a one of the most hyped up crowds he’s ever played before.

And on a night when his offense wasn’t as consistent as we’ve seen this season — he scored 29 points on 8-for-24 shooting — KD stepped it up in other areas.

He grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds, dished four assists and had a key block down the stretch.

He also had a chance to defend the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kobe Bryant, in a tight fourth quarter, holding him to just four points in the final frame. Kevin used his length and quickness to both challenge Kobe’s shots and keep him from getting to the rim.

The national media took notice, saying that KD had arrived. Everyone knew he could score in bunches, but defend? Well, that’s something they’ve never seen. Then again, they haven’t followed him as closely throughout the regular season.

“Other parts of my game get overshadowed because I score the basketball a lot this season but I’ve just been trying to play hard,” KD told reporters on Friday. “A lot of people don’t recognize that so that’s what last night was all about, playing hard. Kobe Bryant’s the best player in the world and some of those shots he missed it’s just because he missed. Maybe two or three of those shots I made him miss. But I know he’s going to come back more focused and more ready for the game but hopefully he’ll miss those shots that he takes next game.”

This has been a great, big learning process for Kevin and his teammates, most of whom are playing in their first-ever playoff series.

KD said he’s learning something new each game. And he’s hoping that those lessons will help him come Game 4 on Saturday night at the Ford Center, where the Thunder will look to even its best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

“I’m just being more comfortable,” KD said. “The first game was kind of like a feeling-out process. The second game I kind of knew how they were going to play me and knew different spots where I could score, rebound and pass the ball. The third game was getting comfortable so hopefully that fourth game I get more and more comfortable and help my team win.”

-Team KD

KD and the Thunder Rock the Zoom KD II in the Playoffs

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Many of KD’s Thunder teammates have been wearing the Zoom KD II throughout the regular season. Now many of them have started wearing special playoff colorways of the Zoom KD II for their match up against the Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s a look at some of the colorways KD and his Thunder teammates will wear throughout the playoffs.

For more information on the KD and where you can find various models of the shoe, please click HERE. And if you have a pair of Zoom KD II’s, make sure to take a pic of yourself holding the shoe and send it in to KD35sightings [at] gmail.com. We will feature your Zoom KD II photos in the KD II sightings section of the site.

KD on the Cover of SLAM Magazine for the Second Time this Season

The folks over at SLAM Magazine chose Kevin and two of his Thunder teammates (Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green) to grace the cover of this month’s SLAM Magazine.

Here’s insight from SLAM Big Bossman, Lang Whitaker on why they picked the three young up and coming players to be on the cover:

Picking Oklahoma City from the West was a no-brainer. Sure they’re young and talented and all that, but what they’ve accomplished in just two years is incredible. Anyone remember that it was just a little over a year ago that they started out 1-12? I think everyone recognized they were a talented team, led by probably the most talented young player in the NBA, but now they’re not only a Playoff team out West, they’re three games out of first in their division and on pace to win 50.

Our main man Nima Zarrabi spent time with the Thunder when they were out in Cali a couple of weeks ago, and he wrote a great story that captures not only how well the Thunder players all get along, but also just how well the franchise is positioned going forward.

Support the Thunder and pick up your copy of this month’s SLAM Magazine today!

—Team KD

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