Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder players have animal instincts

Kevin Durant surprised red panda cub named KayDee in his honor
By John Rohde and Anthony Slater Published: October 1, 2012

Three-time scoring champ and Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant had a hectic summer and was unaware a red panda had been named in his honor at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

KayDee was born June 6, the same night the Thunder clinched the Western Conference title in Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs. She was named by keeper Chrislyn Newton, who is a big Thunder fan.

Durant laughed when the news was shared at Media Day on Monday.

“You serious?” Durant asked. “Wow. Thank you. That's a first. Feels good.”

Thunder sixth man James Harden smiled when playfully asked if he was upset no animal was named after him.

“I'm not at KD's level yet,” Harden said.

What animal would Harden want named in his honor?

“Has to be something hairy,” Harden deadpanned, rubbing his famous beard.

What's the plan for the beard this season?

“That's a very good question,” Harden said. “It's starting to get a lot more recognition so … just go with the flow.”

FOOTBALL FIRST

Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka on Saturday night attended his first American football game when he witnessed the pulsating Oklahoma State-Texas game at Boone Pickens Stadium, which the Longhorns won 41-36.

Ibaka was the guest of Durant, a former Longhorn, who landed sideline passes.

Born in the Republic of Congo, Ibaka is no stranger to big-time futbol (soccer) matches.

“It was a really tight game and it was fun. I really enjoyed it,” Ibaka said of his Stillwater experience. “I almost feel like I was watching the soccer games back in Africa, kind of the same (type) stadium (atmosphere).”

Ibaka said he picked up on American football quickly and frequently asked Durant questions.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Ibaka has the size, strength and leaping ability that could make him an unstoppable tight end.

Would he ever consider playing football?

“Me? Hell no,” Ibaka said quickly and firmly. “That's not me.”

INJURY REPORT

Starting center Kendrick Perkins isn't the only injured Thunder player heading into training camp, which begins Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Starting shooting guard Thabo Sefelosha is overcoming a deep thigh bruise.

Perkins had offseason surgery to his groin and left wrist. The wrist has yet to completely heal, but Perkins said he hopes to be ready for the regular-season opener Nov. 1 at San Antonio.

“Perk is going to be out most of the contact part of practice,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Thabo had a thigh contusion, but he's coming along the last couple of weeks, so he should be fine.”

Asked about the injury, Sefolosha smiled and said: “I got injured during the summer, but I'm recovering pretty fast and I should be OK really soon.”

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