The best part of Kevin Durant’s trip out west might have come Thursday afternoon, when he visited boxing legend Muhammad Ali at his Phoenix-area home before the Thunder’s game against the Suns.
A mutual friend arranged the meeting, and Durant visited with Ali and his family for about an hour, hearing stories of Ali from a sister while soaking up being in the presences of an all-time great.
“It was great to be around him,” Durant said. “Just so much history. Just a guy that changed the whole culture, not just boxing but changed the world just by who he is, what he stood for. It was just good to be around him, just reading up on my history, knowing about him, knowing what he’s done. It was definitely an honor to be in his presence. It was something I’m always going to remember.”
Despite the 72-year-old former champion being severely limited by Parkinson’s disease, Durant said Ali was aware throughout the visit and acknowledged his presence with smiles.
“He could recognize everything that was going on,” Durant said. “But it was an unbelievable experience for me just to be in his presence man. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I’ll go back as well. It’s just something that’s surreal, to meet a guy that’s done so much and paved the way for so many people. It was great to be around him…It’s definitely something that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life.”
THUNDER PLAYERS WANT FISHER BACK
Derek Fisher has repeatedly said this season, his 18th, will be his last in the NBA.
But his Thunder teammates are planning on saying not so fast.
“He’s talked about retiring, and our players, I don’t know if they’ve talked to him yet, but I’ve heard they’re planning on talking to him,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But Fisher still could play a few more years if he wants to play.”
Durant said Fisher might not be the right person to go to.
“I think we got to talk to his wife and his kids,” said Durant, laughing. “I don’t think we can talk to him. I’m sure he wants to play. But I’m going to have to talk to his wife and his kids and see if we can squeeze another seven months out of him. I’ll wait until we’re done. I’ll let him enjoy these last few months. But after that, I’m going to do some negotiating.”
The Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Steve Nash due to injuries. ... Russell Westbrook was called for his seventh technical foul Sunday for arguing a call. … Durant missed four free throws against the Lakers, including a technical foul shot. He was 7-for-11 from the foul line. … Serge Ibaka scored 21 points with a game-high 15 rebounds. … The Thunder out-rebounded the Lakers, 59-36. … Both teams held 18-point leads at various points. OKC was whistled for 14 more fouls than the Lakers.