Somewhere there's a blueprint, waiting on Kevin Durant to dissect its details and pursue its path.
It leads to stardom.
Michael Jordan passed it to Kobe Bryant who passed it to LeBron James who passed it to Dwyane Wade. Durant, the Seattle Sonics' baby-faced, 19-year-old prodigy, is next in line. Barring complications from a recent foot injury, Durant is set to start his rookie season Wednesday night at Denver.
"Success is written all over him,” said longtime NBA coach Paul Silas, who coached LeBron James during his first two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "He's just got it. Very seldom does the good Lord give a player everything. He's almost given this player just about everything he needs for success.”
It starts with a 6-foot-9 frame that still is teenager-thin but built to play multiple positions and score from anywhere on the court. Durant's silky-smooth jump shot, from midrange and the perimeter, and his relentless attacks on the rim have him pegged not only to win the Rookie of the Year award in a landslide but also to have a hall-of-fame worthy career.
"The potential for him is certainly high,” said Sonics General Manager Sam Presti. "But we're going to allow him to be himself, and we're not going to place any type of expectations or limitations on him as he enters into the program.”
Durant joins a Sonics squad void of experienced stars after the team traded Ray Allen to Boston and Rashard Lewis to Orlando this summer. As the brightest star on a team that enters this season with an average age of 24.9 years old, Durant's success will now largely determine the entire organization's achievements.
"We're going to support him and we're going to work with him and coach him and give him every opportunity to develop,” Presti said. "But we're going to let him be Kevin Durant.”
And that's just the way the former Texas Longhorn star likes it. He could do without the name-calling.
Maybe you've heard them. Savior. The Man. Face of the franchise. Go-to guy. Durant is happy with being, well, Kevin Durant.
"I don't think I'm ‘The Man,' ” Durant said in June shortly after he was drafted second overall. "I'm just going to go in there and work hard, and whatever my coaches need me to do I'll do. I know my teammates are going to help me out. I just can't wait to start.”
The blueprint for stardom starts with a strong support system. It's what's credited for keeping stars such as James, Wade and Hornets guard Chris Paul grounded while they blossom into national and international icons.
Durant lives with his mother, Wanda Pratt, who moved from the family's Maryland home to help her son transition into the NBA world. Among other things, Pratt fixes home-cooked meals for Durant, providing the all-so important proper nutrition that promotes optimal health and conditioning.
"He's off to a great start with having his family around him,” said Sonics forward Kurt Thomas, who at 35 is Durant's oldest teammate by five years.