Now in his 11th NBA season, Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant has emerged as one of the great players in the history of basketball. Beginning his career with the Seattle Supersonics after being selected second overall in the 2007 NBA draft, Durant has always been much discussed and debated. Now, as he eyes his second NBA championship and potentially his second Finals MVP award, his place in the basketball legendarium appears secure.
Come along on this brief journey to discover and understand how KD has grown into a bonafide legend.
Full Name: Kevin Wayne Durant
Birth Date: September 29, 1988
Birth Place: Washington D.C.
Height:: 7 ft 0
Team: Golden State Warriors / NBA
KD grew up in the Washington D.C. area with his mom, Wanda, and his three siblings, Brianna, Tony, and Rayvonne. KD’s father, Wayne, abandoned his family when Kevin was only 3. Kevin grew up a Toronto Raptors fan, idolizing Vince Carter, and dreamed of playing for the Canadian franchise one day. As a teenager, KD played for various AAU teams in Maryland. One of his AAU coaches, Charles Craig was murdered, and Durant decided to wear number 35 to honor the age in which the coach was killed. Durant still wears 35 to this day.
Durant grew five inches before his senior high school season at Montrose Christian School. That same year, he was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and entered the college recruiting process as the number 2 prospect in the country, just behind lauded center Greg Oden. Durant would choose to attend the University of Texas after a lengthy process in which he was coveted by various programs.
Durant grew two inches further entering his freshman year at Texas. He dominated all season, finishing the year averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds. For his troubles, KD was awarded every player of the year prize you can think of, such as the John Wooden Award and the Naismith player of the year award.
Texas garnered a four seed in the 2007 NCAA tournament but were knocked out in the second round by USC.
Not long after the tournament ended, Durant announced his intention to enter the 2007 NBA draft.
There was a good deal of debate as to who would go first in the 2007 NBA draft, Greg Oden or KD. As it turned out, the Portland Trailblazers would select Greg Oden — which would turn out to be a monumental mistake — leaving the Seattle Supersonics to take Durant. After Durant’s rookie year in Seattle, the Sonics would move to Oklahoma City and become the Thunder. After drafting Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the Thunder looked by 2010 to be the team of the future. That year, in his third season, KD would lead the league in scoring with 30.1 a game. That same season, the Thunder made the playoffs and would impressively battle Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers for six games before falling. In 2011, KD would lead the league in scoring once more at 27.7 a game and the Thunder would make a surprise appearance in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. And despite falling in five, the future looked breathtakingly bright for KD and OKC.
In 2012, KD would win his third straight scoring title and the Thunder made the NBA Finals, falling in five to Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat. Even with yet another loss, the Thunder’s core were all under 25 years old and fans remained optimistic that a championship was more than within reach. However, that fall, Thunder GM Sam Presti made a move that would change the league forever. Concerned that he was going to lose James Harden in free agency for nothing, Presti traded the future Bearded super-star to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and draft picks. The move, which was controversial at the time, blew up in the Thunder’s faces as Harden grew into one of the league’s premier players and the only real player of value the Thunder garnered from the trade was Steven Adams, who they drafted in 2013 using the pick acquired from Houston.
After Harden was traded, the Thunder never reached another NBA finals. KD and Russell Westbrook were left to carry the scoring and playmaking load. The Thunder would make three Western Conference Finals from 2013-2016, but would fall just short each time without having that third option that Harden provided previously.
It was after a particularly debilitating seven-game defeat in the WCF to the Golden State Warriors in 2016, in which OKC blew a 3-1 lead, that left Durant wanting to move on and find a better basketball situation. Durant indeed chose to head to Golden State, a team that of course he had just lost to but had also just lost crippilingly to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Many were shocked and outraged that KD made such a decision, seeing it as a cheap way to win a title.
Though not everyone has forgiven him, there is a good deal of those who have forgotten their outrage and have simply appreciated the greatness of Durant’s play with the Warriors. In now two straight finals, Durant has appeared the best player on the floor, scoring at will and protecting the paint on defense. It is entirely likely that Durant is headed for his second straight NBA Finals MVP award.
Kevin Durant Contract
Durant signed a two-year, $51,250,000 contract with the Warriors during the summer of 2016. He has decided to opt out of his third year option and will be a free agent this summer, though it is widely expected that he will re-sign.