So long as a Thunder game isn’t on, Wednesday evenings at the downtown YMCA make for good basketball. You can usually find a healthy mix of area high school players past and present, even some who maybe earned playing time for a small college team once upon a time. And if it’s a major holiday —Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break— doubly so, ’cause all the kids currently on scholarship come home for a little bit. I made the mistake of jumping into one of those games last year and got thoroughly embarrassed by a dude in OSU warmups.
I wasn’t expecting anybody else to be there last Friday around lunchtime when I went in to shoot baskets, so you can imagine my surprise to find this guy, casually playing with eight of his friends:
There Kevin Durant was, the morning after dropping 28 points in a late game against the Clippers, playing half-court ball with his buddies (each of them big enough to discomfort somebody sitting next to them on an airplane), talking noise and completely disregarding the “NO DUNKING ALLOWED” sign pasted to the window of the gym. The Y employee at the desk made me promise not to bother him, so I checked out a ball and headed to the other end of the court to practice corner threes and otherwise pretend like one of the two greatest basketball players on the planet wasn’t at the other end performing feats of scoring magic that I normally can’t afford to watch up close.
Spectators filed in. One woman tried to interrupt the game for an autograph and was promptly ushered out by a member of the Y staff. But by the end of it, there was just the four-on-four game at one end and me and another random guy at the other end, shooting.
The little seed planted in my brain:
“What if I got in on a game with Kevin Durant?”
I was hopeful but my mere-mortal size, middling athleticism and considerable lack of skills prevented me from asking or imposing. (Plus, it’s just rude to interrupt.) So I kept shooting, hoping maybe somebody would get tired and they’d need one more to run.
Eventually Kevin sat down with his phone and his friends played on without him, as four-on-four dwindled to three-on-three. For the final game I got the call-up and was assigned to defend a man who made me look as thin as a striped milkshake straw. Lucky for me, he was pretty tired and not super-interested in playing defense, and so I found myself with the ball in the corner, just behind the three-point line and about five feet away from where Durant was sitting.
“This is my chance,” I thought as I heaved at the basket.
Clank.Matt Carney is an editor for NewsOK.com.