Kevin Durant showed up for his first day of camp at Heritage Hall High sporting a look of exhaustion that accompanied his admitted struggle to remember important dates.
Like the one that comes at the stroke of midnight Friday, when the Oklahoma City Thunder star and his fellow NBA colleagues could suffer a lockout if no deal is reached in the NBA's labor dispute.
In the midst of a hectic summer schedule that has included trips to all corners of the country, Durant said at his kids basketball camp on Wednesday that he forgot the league's current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day Thursday.
“I lost track of time,” said Durant, the Thunder's player union representative.
Durant returned to Oklahoma for his third annual camp fresh off hosting his three-day Nike Skills Academy in Chicago, a camp that is in its second season. Prior to that, Durant traveled to Los Angeles to train. He also has squeezed in trips to the Washington, D.C. area, where he grew up. Following his Oklahoma City camp, Durant will host another kids camp in Austin, Texas.
While Durant has been fulfilling his previously-scheduled obligations, representatives from the NBA and the NBA Players Association have held negotiating meetings in New York. Numerous players have attended the negotiating sessions.
“With me being so wrapped up in this and the other things I had to do this summer, I didn't get a chance to really go to the meetings and sit down and really know how things are going,” Durant said. “I just really hope things go smooth and we're not locked out for as long as people think and we get back to what we're supposed to do.”
Durant said he is optimistic that a deal will get done and the 2011-12 NBA season will begin on time. But after leading the Thunder within three wins of the NBA Finals, Durant said it would be “very disappointing” for Oklahoma City fans to not have NBA basketball.
“They come and support us in everything we do, not just coming to the games,” Durant said. “All the community events we have, they always support us. I see a lot of the Thunder fans at my camp…so it's going to be tough for them not to have basketball. Hopefully we don't go past September with it. Hopefully we have a training camp and we go from there.”
Durant, a renowned gym rat, said he just wants to play basketball.
“At the end of the day, that's all I want to do,” Durant said. “That's all our team wants to do. That's all our fans want to see is us play basketball. That's what we start playing this game for is just to play.
“I always hear people say, ‘If there's no NFL or NBA, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself.' So hopefully we get things done.”
The looming lockout, however, hasn't put a damper on Durant's excitement with where the Thunder is headed. The Thunder won 55 games last season and will return at least nine members of the 10-man rotation. After losing in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing in five games to Dallas.
“I think in the playoffs we grew a lot,” Durant said. “Nobody expected us to be in the conference finals. We accomplished that goal, and it's time for us to move on and try to set bigger goals.
“It's all about keeping this young core together and seeing what we can do with it.”
Durant seemed pleased with the newest member of the core, guard Reggie Jackson, the 24th overall pick out of Boston College. Durant said he doesn't know Jackson and didn't get to see him play this season. But as soon as the Thunder drafted Jackson last Thursday, Durant said he began watching internet highlights and liked what he saw. The two have since had a few conversations via telephone.
“I think he's going to fit right in,” Durant said.