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He’s not a big spender, either.

Durant says he would save five or 10 bucks for the end of the week last season at Texas. Now he has a Nike shoe deal and his NBA salary, just more than $4 million this season, making him a multimillionaire.

Durant’s mother, Wanda Pratt, controls the majority of his finances. The NBA sent George Gervin, the player many compared Durant to, to mentor him and former Georgetown star and teammate Jeff Green. Following a turbulent and violent summer for pro athletes, the NBA started the mentoring program.

“If you’ve got any sense at all, you’ll look at the situation and see that a lot of our kids just need some direction,” Gervin says. “You’re thrust in this situation as an athlete and you really never had nothing in your life, then all of a sudden you have something. You just need some guidance. Yeah, they make a lot of money, but it ain’t how much money you make, it’s how much you keep.”

As a 23-year-old heading toward being a billionaire, James, whom Durant refers to as a “big brother” and “a different dude,” has a full understanding of cash control. He knows in the end generations of your family should be set, though, for many, it does not turn out that way.

“The first thing we do is we want to spend, spend, spend,” James says. “We always had been in a situation where we couldn’t spend, spend, spend when we were younger. I think right at the beginning, you should splurge, you should just go out and buy your mom something, buy your friends things, but it gets to a point where you have to be smart about things and know basketball doesn’t last forever.”


Despite the squalls around him — the possible relocation of the organization, multiple roster changes — Durant likely will earn rookie of the year honors. His average of 19.6 points leads a rookie class with only three double-figure scorers. He also has blocked one less shot than Atlanta strongman Al Horford, the other prime candidate for the rookie of the year award.

Criticism has burgeoned this month even though Durant’s shooting efficiency has risen. He has made a substantial reduction in 3-point attempts, putting up only eight in 11 games in this month after taking 70 in 16 games in November. His shooting percentage in March spiked to 52 percent. At the same time, a fresh batch of teammates and shooting less has caused his turnovers to surge. He’s averaging 3.9 this month.

Simply put, he’s learning on the fly.

“It’s easy to forget that an 82-game season is a process, and along the way there’s going to be peaks and valleys,” Presti says. “I think over time we are starting to see his understanding translate onto the floor. His competitiveness and willingness to be coached throughout the year is nothing short of remarkable.”

Even a woeful record and historic losses haven’t dampened Durant’s exuberance. Perhaps the best example of that came in a game he didn’t play in. Though out with a sprained left index finger, Durant joined the huddle during a second-half timeout. The standing circle consisted of the coach, the five players on the floor and this focused guy in a suit.

For all the hype, he considers himself an average guy from the District finding his way at work. Just like those other 6-foot-10, 19-year-old millionaires everyone knows.

“It’s still kind of weird to see people ask me for autographs or ask to take pictures with me. I think I’m just a regular guy,” Durant says. “I walk around the mall by myself. You know, I just enjoy being a regular person. That’s how I think I am, so it’s no different to me.”