Kevin Durant donated $1 million to the Red Cross for tornado relief on Tuesday. He did it quietly. Quieter than when he signed his extension. He didn’t tweet it. He didn’t put out a press release. We only knew about it because the Red Cross told us. He wasn’t on a street corner shouting about it with a megaphone. He gave the way you’re suppose to give: selflessly, with no fanfare, because people needed help.
As Royce said, it wasn’t a surprise. This is what he does. Maybe better than any star in the league, he has his finger on the pulse of his city. He knows what it needs and when it needs it.
Grantland’s Brian Phillips wrote an incredible piece last week on the end of our season. He was at The Peake on the night we finally got tired and faded into summer vacation. In his write up he mentioned something that Scott Brooks said about Durant’s final shot of the season.
“The thing about Kevin is I live with his decisions because he has a pure heart.”
Durant has made Brooks look right a lot over the course of these last four seasons. What’s one more time.
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Russell Westbrook is at a hospital. He’s there with DeAndre Liggins, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb, and Scott Brooks. They’re there because of the tornado. They’re there to try to put smiles on faces.
Westbrook meets a young boy while he’s there. The boy’s name is Grayson. On Monday afternoon Grayson was in a day care facility that was destroyed by the tornado. Now he’s okay.
Westbrook meets Grayson in a hospital hallway. Westbrook’s in a wheelchair. He has bubbles with him. Grayson has cuts on his face and his ear. After some coaxing, they high five each other.
The boy blows the bubbles and they scatter and nurses clap and Westbrook says good job. They give each other three high fives. On the last one Westbrook makes Grayson jump because who knows the joys of jumping better than the man with forever bounce. Grayson smiles wide. He jumps and their hands connect and hopefully for that moment everybody in the hallway thought about something other than the storm.
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I do not live in Oklahoma City or the surrounding metro area. The closest I’ve ever lived to it is Shawnee. I watched the awfulness from in front of my computer screen at work. I tuned in to Channel 4′s live stream and watched for hours. I spent the afternoon like I’d imagine a lot of Oklahomans did. Eyes glassed over, neglecting work, texting my friends to ask if they were okay, hoping for a positive answer.
It’s rough being helpless. It gets hard in those moments where everything is going wrong to remember that there is good in the world. All your screen is ever showing you is the bad. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, though, did that for us Tuesday. They reminded us of the good.
At this point it’s old hat to say that we, as a fan base, are lucky to have Durant and Westbrook. That luck, we realized on Tuesday more than ever, extends far beyond the court.
As for the state, I don’t know what to say about it that hasn’t already been said by those smarter than me. The resiliency. The care. The love. These are not surprising things either. They have been proven, time and again. 1995. 1999. We are stronger than the things that would try and break us. It’s in these times, the hard, dark ones, that we shine the brightest.