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OKC Thunder: Metta World Peace, then Ron Artest, taught Kevin Durant a lesson in 2010

Durant was a budding star when Artest introduced the youngster to intense, playoff basketball.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 14, 2012

Kevin Durant is ready for round two.

It took the Oklahoma City Thunder star two years, but with his classic self-effacing confidence he says he's now better prepared for playoff battle with the Los Angeles Lakers.

His foray into postseason ball, remember, was forgettable.

Back in 2010, the champs worked over Durant so good he didn't know what hit him.

The answer, of course, was Ron Artest.

The player now known as Metta World Peace did a number on Durant, introducing the budding star to playoff basketball with his patented brand of physicality that left Durant and the Thunder on the wrong end of a six-game series.

Looking back, that encounter was just what Durant needed. It helped Durant, taught him. It showed Durant, for the first time, what words like tough, discouraging and frustrating really meant on a basketball court.

“The playoffs are another level as far as physicality is concerned,” Durant said when asked what his head-to-head battle with Artest taught him. “Just play through it. He's a tough defender. But that was a learning process, and ever since then I've grown as a player.”

Durant averaged 25 points in those six games. That average still stands as his lowest in any of his first five playoff rounds. With Artest smothering him, Durant shot just 35 percent, also a playoff low for any round.

For the first time, media members covering that series saw Durant lose his cool — first on the court, and then in front of the cameras. Durant became irritable, a walking time bomb.

The series was a nightmare.

Had it not been for that series, however, Durant might not be the player and playoff performer he has evolved into today.

“He's come a long way,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Metta did a great job on Kevin in that first playoff series. But I think it also helped Kevin. He understood after that series that playoff basketball is very physical. It's very intense and it's very demanding on your body and your mind. And having Metta guard him so well, it forced him to really lock in in the summer training.”

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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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