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A year older, wiser
CommentaryDurant, team will grow up together

by Jenni Carlson Published: September 30, 2008
Kevin Durant celebrated his birthday on Monday.

The face of Oklahoma City's NBA franchise is now a whopping 20 years old. That actually makes him the baby face of the franchise.

Thing is, it's fitting that his birthday was also media day, the Thunder's first official team function.

The franchise and the face are going to grow up together.

"For him to come here early in his career ... ,” Thunder point guard Earl Watson said, "20 years from now, 30 years from now, you think of the Thunder being in Oklahoma City, you're going to have to think of Kevin Durant.”

This is a youngster who has not only the ability but also the personality to be a superstar.

Look at what happened a year ago. He played for a dreadful team but still won the NBA Rookie of the Year. He landed on the West Coast but still emerged a marketing darling.

The NBA has a Durant-only spot that's big-time. Walking from the locker room in a Boys and Girls Club jersey, he peels away one jersey after another. Junior high. High school. College. Finally, he ends up in his Sonics jersey.

Time to add a new jersey.

This is a new era for this franchise and this state, and Durant is just the player to build around.

"I grew up a lot last year,” he said. "I had to grow up a lot, coming to this lifestyle, coming to it early.”

Some of the lessons learned were hard.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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