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Thunder's Kevin Durant to host charity basketball game in Oklahoma City with LeBron James, Blake Griffin

by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 11, 2011
Basketball is coming back to Oklahoma City.

At least for one October night.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is making good on his promise to put on a charity exhibition game featuring his fellow NBA superstars. Details of the event are expected to be announced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

According to numerous sources with knowledge of the event, the game will pit two star-studded squads against each other, with one side being Durant's team and the other being former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin's team. Miami Heat star LeBron James is one of several players who have been confirmed for the event. New Orleans guard Chris Paul and Heat guard Dwyane Wade also are expected to show.

The game is scheduled to be played Sunday, Oct. 23, inside the Cox Convention Center, which holds just shy of 14,000 for basketball. Other potential stars that could make an appearance include L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and New York forward Carmelo Anthony, as well as Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Durant first told The Oklahoman last month that he would plan an exhibition featuring several of the league's top players if the season did not start on time. On Monday, the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the regular season after players and owners failed to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. An initial snag was securing a suitable venue. Because of the league-imposed lockout, players are not permitted to use team facilities and NBA arenas. But once word of Durant's intentions got out, promoters began lining up to offer their services to lock in a site and worthy charities. A deal was consummated in just days. But Durant told The Oklahoman in September he wants to make sure it's done right.

“Everybody in Oklahoma City is going to want to see it,” Durant said. “I want to try to do it and get not just our players from our team but guys all around the league to come play in it and make it a nice event.”

Since the lockout began on July 1, Durant has been a part of a group of “barnstorming” players who've taken their talents to high school and college gyms across the country for high-octane pickup games. Durant has played in pickup games in Los Angeles, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and, most recently, Miami last Saturday.

Following the game in Miami on the campus of Florida International University, James, who hosted the event along with teammates Wade and Chris Bosh, sent Durant a message on Twitter saying, “Thanks for coming through homie! Looking forward to the one in OKC.”

Durant has explained his involvement in the exhibitions by saying he wants to give back to fans.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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