Basketball: Prolific Kevin Durant out to prove that good guys can be winners, too

“I’ve been second all my life. I’m tired of being second. I am done with it”

Once, as he was breaking through to becoming Brazil’s greatest striker, Ronaldo was asked to film an advert. He was playing for PSV Eindhoven and he was required to juggle a ball in the surf on the Dutch North Sea coast, which was standing in for the Copacabana.

There was one take, then another and then another. Eventually, Ronaldo broke down in tears. He could not do it in front of the cameras.

The hardest thing Kevin Durant said he has ever had to do is deliberately miss baskets during the making of Thunderstruck. The film is a role-reversal caper in which a wimpy kid, who couldn’t slam dunk if his pet rabbit’s life depended on it, is given the ability of his hero, one Kevin Durant, who in turn suddenly finds himself unable to dunk or even slam.

Scoring, when it matters, has seldom been a problem. Last season Durant’s average of 27 points a game was the principal reason for Oklahoma’s run to the Western Conference final.

Those who have followed his career from its early flowerings in Maryland argue that he remains the same boy who insisted he would always wear the No 35 shirt in memory of his Amateur Athletic Union coach, Charles Craig, murdered at 35. He never refers to himself in the third person.

One of his sponsors, Footlocker, ran a campaign promoting him as “the nicest guy in the NBA”. The $1m donated to the American Red Cross to help alleviate the ravages of the hurricane that killed or injured 400 in the small town of Moore, Oklahoma, suggests this may not be mere advertising flannel.

Asked why Durant was chosen to play someone who suddenly finds himself unable to hit a barn door at 20 paces, Thunderstruck’s director, John Whitesell, replied: “When a guy goes over and hugs his mom [Wanda] after a game, that’s a guy people are going to like. If LeBron James can’t shoot, I don’t care but if Kevin can’t shoot, then I’m going to feel sad.”

The rivalry with LeBron James is a significant part of what motivates Durant.

James’ decision to quit Cleveland for Miami Heat for what, even by NBA standards, was an enormous salary earned him derision and vilification in equal measure. And yet when Durant and James met in the NBA finals, it was James and Miami Heat who won.

Durant studies James’ game intently: “If he has 30 points with nine rebounds and eight assists I can tell you exactly how he did it”.

In an intense interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this year, Durant said: “I have been second all my life. I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I have been second in the Most Valuable Player Award three times. I came second in the finals. I am tired of being second. I am done with it.”

Oklahoma City Thunder face the Philadelphia 76ers at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester as part of NBA Global Games Manchester 2013. Tickets available at eventim.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London