Kevin Durant gets his invitation to play ball with the president

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 8, 2010 at 9:20 am •  Published: November 6, 2010

This is a story Kevin Durant would prefer you didn't know.

But you need to know it to know Durant.

Three months ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder's star didn't receive an invitation to perhaps the most secluded and star-studded pickup game ever played.

It went down Sunday, Aug. 8.

The guest list included numerous NBA greats. Household names like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.

The host was President Barack Obama.

The event was held at Fort McNair, a short ride from the White House in southeast Washington, for a group of soldiers wounded in combat. The bash capped the president's 49th birthday week.

Some said the White House had snubbed the NBA's reigning scoring champion and MVP runner-up. Durant, though, never showed signs of feeling slighted. He posted on his Twitter account a day later that there is "always next year."

What you don't know is that Durant received his invitation — an exclusive invitation — later that month. And on Sept. 18, Durant shot hoops with the president.

"We just played pickup," Durant said. "It wasn't anything formal."

But for Durant, a D.C. native, it was an introduction that held special meaning.

"It was a good feeling to meet the president," Durant said. "Of course I always wanted to do that. Me being from D.C., it was pretty cool to see him. I was excited to get that opportunity. It's something I'm always going to remember."

Soon after the supposed snub, Durant told his agents, brothers Aaron and Eric Goodwin, he would have liked to have met and played ball with the president. The agents turned their client's wish into reality by using a connection to Obama's special assistant and personal aide Reggie Love to secure a date. Love is a former Duke basketball player.

The day happened to be one day after Durant's grandmother's 63rd birthday. And Barbara Davis received an unexpected and unforgettable birthday gift. She accompanied Durant and Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, to the Commander in Chief's home court.

"She's been in D.C. for 60 years and never got to meet the president," Durant said. "Now we have the first African-American president, and that felt good for me to give her that opportunity."


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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THUNDER VS. CELTICS

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Oklahoma City Arena.

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722). NBA TV (Cox 256, HD Ch. 726). (Note: Blackout rules apply for the NBA TV broadcast in the Oklahoma City area)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* The Thunder went 1-1 against the Celtics last season.

* Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal is not expected to play tonight because of a bruised right knee.

* Boston's Rajon Rondo is averaging more assists (15.5) than the Thunder (14.4).

PROJECTED STARTERS

Thunder (3-2)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 22.2, 7.0, 6.6

G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 10.8.4.8, 2.0

F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 26.4, 7.2, 1.8

F, Jeff Green, 6-9, 19.4, 7.2, 0.6

C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 6.2, 4.8, 0.4

Celtics (5-1)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Rajon Rondo, 6-1, 11.3, 5.5, 15.5

G, Ray Allen, 6-5, 18.0, 3.5, 2.5

F, Paul Pierce, 6-7, 19.3, 7.0, 3.7

F, Kevin Garnett, 6-11, 15.7, 9.8, 1.8

C, Jermaine O'Neal, 6-11, 6.4, 2.6, 0.4

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