Desmond Mason was watching Kevin Durant.
Everywhere the Oklahoma City Thunder star played over the summer, Mason was somewhere marveling at what Durant was doing.
When Durant scored 66 at the legendary Rucker Park in New York City in early August, Mason's antenna shot up. When Durant scored 40 and 41, respectively, in two other pickup games in New York days later, Mason got to thinking.
By the time Durant scored 59 against LeBron James in a late August all-star exhibition, Mason had made up his mind. He knew what he had to do.
“I told him this is something you should do. You should have a game here in Oklahoma City,” Mason said. “I think you deserve it. You've been playing in everyone else's game. I think the city definitely deserves it.”
After a summer of flirting with the idea over text messages and emails, Mason finally convinced Durant it could be done. On Wednesday, Mason partnered with Brad Lund of Sold Out Strategies to announce Durant's all-star exhibition will be played at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, inside the Cox Convention Center.
The game, officially named the USFleet Tracking Basketball Invitational, will feature Durant, former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin and several other NBA stars. It will be billed as Kevin Durant vs. Blake Griffin.
Tickets for the game start at $29 and will go on sale noon Monday at coxconventioncenter.com, at the Cox Center box office and participating Homeland stores. Tickets go up to $89 for bowl seating, and a limited number of floor seats will be available for $199.
A portion of proceeds for the event will benefit nonprofit organizations and charities of Durant’s and Griffin's choice.
“He's setting the standard for really good NBA basketball players,” Mason said of Durant. “He's doing everything the right way. He's a Christian. He's really involved with his community. To him, that's what this is all about. He's getting together a group of guys to come in and have some fun and put on a show for the fans here in Oklahoma City that he cares about and care about him.”
James, the Miami Heat star, along with New Orleans guard Chris Paul, New York forward Carmelo Anthony and Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden are among the NBA stars also scheduled to participate. Former Thunder forward Jeff Green, who was traded to Boston last season, will play as well. Other NBA players are still being finalized.
Mason, who played for the Thunder in 2008-09, is serving as director of basketball operations for the event. The now retired 2001 slam dunk champion says he will not play.
“I retired 18 months ago.