Leave it to the "Round Mound of Sound” to pester Kevin Durant on one of the biggest days of his professional career.
Shortly after announcing Durant as a first-time All-Star on Thursday night, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley engaged the Thunder forward in some good-natured ribbing via a televised phone interview from the TNT studio in Atlanta.
"Kevin, in fairness, we didn’t want to break your heart on TV,” Barkley started. "You’ve been punk’d. You didn’t really make the team.”
Replied Durant, over a sea of laughter from the studio, "That’s messed up, man.”
Chalk it up to rookie hazing.
Durant’s selection to the Western Conference squad marks the first time Oklahoma City has ever had an All-Star. It’s the Thunder franchise’s first selection since former Sonic Ray Allen was named a reserve in 2007.
"It feels good,” Durant told the TNT crew. "It’s a dream come true for me. I’m happy to represent Oklahoma City and my family at the All-Star Game. It’s an honor and I’m very happy.”
Durant, in his third season, has grown into the league’s third leading scorer at 29.3 points per game. Durant’s 7.3 rebounds lead all Thunder players, and he’s added 3.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 39.9 minutes per game, all career-highs.
Led by Durant, the Thunder sports a surprising 24-21 record in 2009-10 after winning just 23 games last season.
"Kevin, through his commitment, consistency and discipline, has earned this recognition,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti.