NBA scoring leader endorses Nuggets' Ty Lawson as All-Star

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant lauds play of former AAU teammate
by Aaron Lopez

The friendship started before the rivalry. The rivalry has done nothing to hurt the friendship.

Long before Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson and Oklahoma City Thunder reached NBA heights, they played together on a Washington, D.C.-based AAU team and were high-school roommates for one season at Oak Hill Academy.

“I can talk to him about anything,” Lawson said before facing Durant and the Thunder on Tuesday. “In the summer, we kick it and hang out. He’s one of my best friends out here. We’ve got a close relationship.”

After high school, Durant went on to play at the University of Texas, while Lawson attended North Carolina. They reunited in the NBA as Northwest Division rivals – Durant in Oklahoma City and Lawson in Denver.

“I love playing against him,” Durant said. “It’s just fun. That’s my friend for life. It’s always going to be a fun rivalry between us two.”

Though they play for separate teams, Durant gave Lawson a strong endorsement as one of the league’s top point guards. Entering Tuesday’s game, he was averaging 18 points and 7.8 assists.

“There are so many great guards, but I think he’s in the mix to be an All-Star,” Durant said. “He should be, in my opinion, with the numbers he’s putting up. He’s doing a great job of leading them. I think he deserves it. We still have a lot of games to go before then, but he’s playing at an All-Star level.”

A recent hamstring strain slowed Lawson’s momentum after he averaged 20.9 points and 8.9 assists in November. He is starting to his legs back under him and is more concerned with helping his team win than earning All-Star recognition.

“As the hype started building, my parents, my friends, everybody starting talking about it,” Lawson said. “The West is definitely tough for point guards. You have to win and also have good stats. Right now, I’m not trying to think about it. I’m just trying to win games. If it happens, it happens. I want to be an All-Star, but I care about our team winning more.”

If it doesn’t happen for Lawson this year, Durant feels it’s only a matter of time.

“He just started to become one of those guys you depend on as a point guard,” Durant said. “He’s eased his way to the starting lineup and now he’s turned into a star. Give it a few more games and you’ll start hearing Ty Lawson’s name all the time because he’s having a great season.”