Kevin Durant definitely does not like the rule that prohibits players from entering the NBA until age 19.
The 6-foot-9 Suitland native finished his stellar high school career and at least wanted the option to jump straight to the league. But thanks to commissioner David Stern, the NBA had to wait.
Instead of being a prep-to-pros phenom,Durant went to college. The result was an unforgettable season.
He averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds and was the first freshman to earn the Naismith Award, given to college basketball’s top player. He also led the freshman-oriented Longhorns to 25 wins and proved he could play all five positions effectively.
Durant still doesn’t like the NBA’s age requirement, but he at least can see some good came of it.
“I would not say I am in favor of the [age limit], but it helped me out,” Durant said. “I learned how to wake up on my own and do things on my own. It helped me grow up, and it helped my game.”
Durant is widely considered the most complete player in Thursday’s NBA Draft, though he likely will be chosen with the No. 2 pick by the Seattle SuperSonics if the Portland Trail Blazers take 7-foot center Greg Oden of Ohio State with the first pick.
The Blazers might think the less-developed Oden has more potential, but Madison Avenue has a different opinion. Durant’s boyish smile and effective all-court game — as opposed to the less-exciting inside game of Oden — make him one of the most sought-after pitchmen since LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003.
Durant already has signed with the Upper Deck trading card company for $5.5 million. Nike and Adidas are competing to sign him to a shoe and apparel deal expected to be worth about $50 million. That figure is far from the $90 million deal given to James but significantly higher than the relatively modest $12 million deal Oden signed with Nike.
“I see more of what brands covet in terms of endorsements in Kevin Durant,” said Scott Sanford, senior talent director for Los Angeles-based Davie Brown Talent, a group that matches companies with endorsers. “He is a bit more flashy. Centers, other than Shaq or Kareem Abdul Jabbar, usually don’t have that. Durant brings excitement on the court and away from it. And that is what companies want.”
On the court, Durant will step into the role of franchise player wherever he lands. If he goes to the Sonics, however, he will be expected to take on another role: savior.
The franchise has been unable to get public funding for a new arena, and owner Clay Bennett has talked of moving the club if it doesn’t get a new home. Durant’s success could have a lot to do with whether the club stays or goes.
“I told her when I when I was 11 I wanted to be in the NBA,” Durant said. “She made sure I did what I needed.”View Entire Story
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