Durant lauds LeBron’s move; unsure of own
LAS VEGAS — Kevin Durant made a point not to ask his friend LeBron James any questions. He gets enough of those already. And besides, James answered just about every question of him with the letter he penned in Sports Illustrated which explained his decision to leave the Miami Heat and come home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But Durant did reach out to congratulate James soon after he announced his decision.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images“I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. … That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City, too,” a torn Kevin Durant said at Team USA’s camp.
“I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter,” Durant said Tuesday, after a training camp session with USA Basketball. “That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”
The two MVPs have developed a close friendship over the years. Durant famously joined James to train in Akron during the lockout in 2011, so he saw his affection for his hometown first-hand.
Durant also has close ties to his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He famously began his MVP speech this spring with a reference to his hometown. “I come from a small county outside of Washington, D.C., called P.G. County,” Durant said after his MVP award was announced.
Asked Tuesday if he might make a similar homecoming in two years when he can become a free agent, Durant said it was too far in the future to discuss in a serious way right now.
“I’m going to do what’s best for me,” Durant said. “It’s hard to talk about that right now when I’ve got two years left in Oklahoma City. I’m just going to focus on that. I’m not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does.
“I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City, too.”
Still, the speculation is hard to escape. Durant said he went home this summer for a family reunion, but didn’t go out much. Asked if that was because he’s constantly asked coming back to the D.C. area someday, Durant smiled and laughed.
“Look, we going to put it out on tape,” Durant said. “It’s been talked about. Everybody’s asked me about it every time I go on Instagram or Twitter. All my friends ask me about it.
“So I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m naïve to the fact that people think about that stuff. But I just tell everybody that I’m here in Oklahoma City, I love it here. Who knows what will happen. I never close the door on anything. But I like where I’m at right now. So I can’t answer that question.”
Durant has two years remaining on the five-year, $ 86 million extension he signed with the Thunder in the summer of 2010. He deliberately committed to five years in Oklahoma City, without any early termination or player options, to demonstrate his commitment to the franchise and appreciation for the city.
Now, though, shorter contracts that allow more flexibility and leverage are in vogue for superstars like James and Durant. Asked Tuesday why he had given up that flexibility in 2010, Durant said, “To be honest, I just didn’t know. I was 21. I didn’t know. Obviously when you sign a deal you want to have the best options for yourself, the best flexibility for yourself. But I loved Oklahoma City so much I just wanted to dedicate and show them that I’m all about the team.”