For whatever reason, I got started reading basketball stories three years old last night. I really don’t know why, but nevertheless, most were pretty fascinating to look over. And if you remember, three years ago, a guy just completed his freshman year at Texas and was just drafted into the NBA. So this Kevin Durant guy was having a number of stories written about him.
A lot of it was the “Oden or Durant?” stuff, which is interesting to see how many people actually favored Durant over Oden (most try and say the consensus was Oden, but a good number of people liked KD), but this one feature in particular from the Austin American-Statesman gave a little peep into the player we see today. One paragraph really stands out:
The coach put him through shooting drills, passing drills and dribbling drills. An AAU official walked in one day and found Durant in the gym, running and dribbling up and down the scuffed-up court with baby-blue three-point lines, making layups. No one else was around. Durant’s grandmother brought supper to him at the activity center. He ate a bite or two, left the plate and sauntered back to the bin of old, smoothed balls. Durant did his homework in the study room, napped behind a curtain in the gym and practiced until past dark. Brown gave Durant a quotation to remember: Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. He made Durant write it 200 times on a piece of notebook paper.
Then if you remember KD’s draft night during his interview with Stuart Scott, he talked about that same quote and hammered home the point: work hard. We know this about Durant now, but it’s more interesting to see how people really knew it about him three years ago. With a lot of players, it’s just lip service to talk about hard work. With KD, it was the truth.