Here’s the cover story from Lee Jenkins in the SI preview: “Kevin Durant bows his head, raises his hand, and a franchise circles him like a maypole: teammates, of course, but also coaches and trainers, the general manager and assistant general manager, the scouting coordinator and communications director, folks from the video room and the equipment room, guys from the Development League affiliate in Tulsa and undrafted free agents who won’t even make it that far. They try to reach the 6’9″ Durant’s outstretched hand, but no one can, so they settle for the wrist or the elbow or the space around him. They are too tired to lift their arms for long. “One, two, three, family,” Durant says, in a haggard breath. “Family,” the group pants back, in unison. Then they walk together across the field, over the ditch and up the Hill for the last time.”
SI previews the Northwest: “Will the Thunder get “the bends” from such a rapid ascent? Just a year ago they were a bottom-feeding team with 43 victories total in the previous two seasons, led by one-dimensional scorer Kevin Durant. Now they are mentioned as a contender for a conference crown and NBA GMs predict that Durant will win the MVP. Durant and Russell Westbrook were arguably the two best players on the U.S.’ gold-medal-winning FIBA World Championship team, but for the Thunder to reach even the conference semis, someone else — James Harden? Serge Ibaka? — needs to leapfrog Jeff Green as a bona fide third piece in the puzzle.”
ESPN the Mag partnered with Marvel to put out some pretty awesome pictures. Here’s a Thunder one.
Kevin Durant says Jeff Green deserves an extension: “I hope they do,” Durant said in an interview with FanHouse about Thunder officials working out a contract agreement with Green. “I think he’s worked so hard. He deserves it. He’s going to do a great job of bringing it every day and not worrying about it. Hopefully, it gets done.”
Denver beat OKC 130-115 last night. Durant and Westbrook didn’t play, but Jeff Green had 29, Byron Mullens 14, D.J. White 14 and James Harden 14 (on 12-14 free throws).
Pretty terrific stuff from Roundball Mining Company on players taking contested and open shots. You might be a bit surprised that in open shots, Kevin Durant isn’t as great hitting as some of his counterparts. But Durant is on the high end of percent of contested shots made. Interesting.
Darnell Mayberry has KD’s full quote on the SI cover: “Thabo and Nenad, people don’t really get to talk about them too much for some odd reason, so it was good to have them on there with me,” Durant said. “They’re guys we have to have on this team, so I wanted everybody to know how important they are to us and how great of teammates they are. I was happy to have a chance to voice my opinion and I’m glad Sports Illustrated put them on the cover with me.” Durant said he spoke with SI officials and told them if they didn’t put Sefolosha and Krstic on the cover then they wouldn’t be allowed to use Durant on the cover, either. “Basically, I had to say it like that,” Durant confirmed. “Everybody knows about Jeff and Russell and James (Harden), but not too many people know about Nenad and Thabo and they’re a big part of this team.”