Rising NBA superstar Kevin Durant has every reason to be arrogant.
While in college at The University of Texas, Durant was the first freshman player to ever sweep all of the major player of year awards.
He is the reigning NBA scoring champ, becoming the first player to win the title three times since the great Michael Jordan did so over a decade ago.
Yep. He has every reason to be haughty, cocky, egotistical. Why shouldn’t he be?
Quite simply, because that’s not what he is all about.
In fact, Kevin Durant is the antithesis of a typical superstar.
He isn’t showy. He doesn’t brag. He doesn’t put himself first. He doesn’t even look like a superstar (we’ve all seen him wearing his hipster glasses and backpack in which he carries his Bible to post-game press conferences).
Instead, he is the ultimate team player. He’s quiet and unassuming. Simply put, he’s an all-around good guy.
When asked to describe Durant, his former assistant coach with the Texas Longhorns and the one most responsible for his recruitment, Russ Springmann, put it best when he said, “He’s simply one of the best human beings I’ve ever been around.”
As the 6-9, 23-year-old superstar ran off the court with 14 seconds remaining in the Western Conference Finals to grab his mother in a loving embrace, the world got a brief glimpse into the heart of the NBA’s fastest rising star, and we saw the reason that he is the man that he is today.
There’s no denying he’s a momma’s boy, and he’s proud of it.
Wanda Pratt raised Kevin and his older brother Tony from the time Kevin was 8 months old until his parents reunited when he turned 13.
Durant will be the first to tell you that it’s because of his mom that he is where he is today. When he was 10 years old, he told her that his dream was to play in the NBA. She made sure that he never lost focus of that goal, and saw that he put in the extra work needed to get to where he wanted to be.
But it was all that she taught him off the court that made him into the person he is today.
Those closest to Durant speak often about his loyalty.
In college, Texas head-coach Rick Barnes had to sit him down and tell him that he had to go to the NBA. He didn’t want to leave his Longhorn teammates behind.
Later, in his professional career, he passed up an opportunity to become a restricted free agent to quietly, without fanfare, re-sign with the Thunder for five more years because he again didn’t want to leave his teammates and the fans who’d shown him such loyalty. In fact, he didn’t even ask for an opt-out clause to be included in his contract as most players of his caliber do.
He’s humble too.
Durant’s mother saw to it that he would never take for granted all that he’d been blessed with, and even today, he hasn’t forgotten that lesson. Durant recalls, “When I was younger I would have good games. I would come home to my friends and brag and boast, but she always told me to be humble because all the stuff could be taken away from me.”
In post-game press conferences, he brushes aside talks that he is the among the best players in the game. He says he isn’t there yet. And he isn’t just talking. He means it. Instead, he’s quick to turn the attention towards his teammates, and often times, his opponents.
Yes, every now and then, an athlete will come along that makes it simply impossible to cheer against him.
No doubt about it, Kevin Durant is that guy.
And the NBA needs more like him.