In 2006, Kevin Durant missed his high school prom because he already had a date with Michael Jordan.
As a result, Durant wound up being MVP of that year’s Jordan Brand Classic high school all-star game played inside Madison Square Garden.
“I made a big sacrifice,” a smiling Durant said of missing prom, “but it was worth it.”
The next Jordan Brand Classic will be held April 16 in the home arena of Jordan, who is majority owner and chairman/CEO of the Charlotte Bobcats. To help spread word of the move, Durant was made available after Tuesday’s shoot-around session in preparation of the Thunder’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats inside Time Warner Cable Arena.
Moving Jordan’s game to Charlotte makes sense, given Jordan’s team ownership and that he played college ball 145 miles away in Chapel Hill.
Durant said he considers the Jordan Brand Classic “one of the best memories I have so far. When we saw him the night before our dinner, we were all star-struck just to see him. Everybody wanted pictures and autographs. He just told us all to relax. He’s a regular guy. He was very proud of us. He told us to always work hard. That sounds a little cliché, but coming from the best player in the game, it really helped.
“(The Classic) is all about the best players in the country. Everybody wants to play on the biggest stage and play in front of Michael Jordan and wear Jordan shoes. I had a blast.”
Durant returned to the Classic his first two seasons in the NBA, but was unable to attend last year’s game because the Thunder was in the playoffs.
The Jordan Brand Classic began in 2002. Other past players include Amar’e Stoudemire, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.
Durant said he envisions success for the game being moved to Charlotte, but admitted it really doesn’t matter where the Classic is held.
“Not at all, because it’s Jordan,” Durant said. “Every kid likes Jordan.”