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Why Kevin Durant Is Sick Of Pro-Am Games

by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 28, 2011
Kevin Durant (left) drives past former Thunder teammate Jeff Green during a pro-am pickup game.
Kevin Durant (left) drives past former Thunder teammate Jeff Green during a pro-am pickup game.

When Kevin Durant made an impromptu trip to New York and took the court at Rucker Park, it suddenly became cool for NBA players to search for a game by any means necessary.

That was Aug. 1.

Two months later, the trend already has lost its luster — at least to Durant it has.

The two-time scoring champ on Tuesday briefly shared his thoughts via Twitter on the stream of streetball games that have swept the country and quickly become the biggest fad in this NBA lockout. It all started when Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings asked Durant if he was ready for a rematch between the D.C.-based Goodman League and the Los Angeles-based Drew League. Durant fired back a candid response.

yea I am, but on da real..all these game starting to get played out..but I’m ready for the rematch”

Jennings immediately agreed, responding “you ain’t never lie.”

It’s important to note here that Durant hasn’t let his feelings stop him from taking the court in these exhibitions. After all, basketball never stops. Durant’s scheduled to appear in Chris Paul’s charity game on Saturday on the campus of Winston Salem State University. Durant (as well as teammate Russell Westbrook) also is scheduled to play in a charity game in Miami hosted by the Heat’s All-Star trio on Oct. 8. Durant originally was scheduled to take part in the “Battle for I-95″ between Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well as the Goodman versus Knox Indy Pro Am in Indianapolis, but had to back out of both because of a previous commitment with filming his movie “Switch” in Baton Rouge, La.

But is it true? Have these pickup games — which started in earnest on July 23 with a showcase in the Philippines — become trite?

The competitiveness of these exhibitions has always been in question. No one, not even for a second, believed these barnstorming games could ever come close to replacing NBA action. But for the player who helped pioneer the movement to deem it “played out” after 60 days is a bit of an eye-opener.

So why would Durant deem it so?

The answer is authenticity.

At some point over the last three months, some games stopped being played for genuine reasons. It stopped being about the love and started being about the money. Somewhere along the line, a few savvy promoters saw a means to make a buck. As a result, some exhibitions stopped focusing as much on fans and charities and instead sought to fatten a few pockets.

That’s one reason attendance has tapered off in various cities. A game two Saturdays ago at Coolidge High in D.C., for example, drew a meager crowd despite players like Durant, John Wall, Michael Beasley, Jeff Green and DeMarcus Cousins serving as headliners.

Durant started randomly showing up to parks and gyms this summer for two reasons: he loves to play and he loves giving fans who otherwise couldn’t afford to see him a glimpse of his skills. Now that it’s no longer completely about that, Durant’s not with it. He’s lost his desire. Better yet, he never had that desire.

Should this lockout linger, Durant will look to host a charity game in the Oklahoma City area. He’ll do it for the right reasons. For the fans. He wants to invite stars from other teams. And he knows it’ll be packed.

And nothing about that is played out.



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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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