Let me start by saying: I’m not a Thunder fan. This is important to know.
For some strange reason, I was lucky enough to have media access for last week’s Oklahoma City Thunder/Milwaukee Bucks game. I had this “500 Days of Summer” type of expectations that included me yucking it up with a bunch of NBA players resulting in tons of terrific content for our little humor site.
I could not have been more wrong.
I did, however, manage to come away with a very honest evaluation that I would love to share with you.
Kevin Durant is awesome
Were you sitting down for that? Did I just blow your mind?
I know that is a very obvious statement to make, but I’m talking far beyond basketball. While I love following awesome basketball players, believe it or not, I’m a huge fan of awesome individuals, too. Kevin Durant happens to be both, which is the reason I’m writing this.
In the locker room, all of my basic understanding of the OKC Thunder was, for the most part, confirmed by our little media scrums. Thabo and Perk were fairly quiet. Nick Collison was cool. Russ was frighteningly
It’s what happened after the media, after the crowds of people, that floored me. I was standing by this backdoor at the Bradley Center, just taking pictures of a door that said “Vanilla Ice.”
Yes, Vanilla Ice did the halftime show. His set list:
1. Cover of “Play that Funky Music, White Boy.”
2. “Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!” from the Ninja Turtle “Secret of the Ooz” Soundtrack
3. “Ice Ice Baby”
And that’s it.
So while I was standing there, taking pictures to remember a halftime show for the ages, I see Kevin Durant walking towards me. He was all packed up, ready to leave Milwaukee, while holding his plate of dinner in his hand. I felt that since I was no longer a “media member” I could be honest for a sec. I said, “Hey Kevin. Good game. Big fan.” as he was passing me by. Pretty standard stuff.
What he did was so shocking: he stopped, turned around, and took a step towards me.
In the most sincere way possible he said, “Thanks man. I appreciate that.”
There was something about his engaging attitude, I don’t know if it was the genuine eye contact or what, but it made me believe that it would be totally cool to keep talking. So I did.
“You know, I went to college in Oklahoma.” I said.
“Really? Where?” asked Kevin.
“Oklahoma Baptist University. It’s a tiny school about 45 minutes from OKC.” I responded.
“I’ve heard of that, I think.” he said.
“Yeah. Your first year, when you guys weren’t winning a ton, my friends and I used to dress up in togas and go to the games. We called ourselves the “Gods of Thunder.” We were WAY up top, so you’d never noticed us. We just screamed our asses off.”
He laughed. “That’s awesome man. That first year was crazy.” he said.
“Alright man, I’ve got a long drive. Good game and have a good rest of the season.” I said.
“Thank you.” said Durant.
And that was it. Keep in mind, I just had an easier conversation with Kevin Durant than I have ever had with some of my own family members. It did not feel like he was a world-wide mega star. For that minute or so, he was just a really cool guy.
I don’t know Kevin Durant and I’m not claiming to. But he shattered my expectations with the level of respect he was willing to show me, even for that short time. He had no reason to turn and chat with me. There were no cameras, or media, or fans around to document this interaction. His image would not been shattered if he had just ignored me. He stuck around though, to talk to some guy who had nothing to offer.
I may not be a Thunder fan, but like I said before, I’m a fan of decent people and for that reason, I’ll always be a fan of Kevin Durant.
Follow the author on twitter @jgallagher41