Three Players Deliver Message to Seeworth Academy
When Kendrick Perkins stepped to the microphone in the gymnasium at Seeworth Academy, the previously boisterous crowd of students simmered to a quiet hush. Just like in the Thunder locker room, when Perkins has something to say, the group listens. In this case, the eighth-year center extolled some of the lessons that he has picked up during his life, the most important of which are to work hard, learn something new every day and keep an open mind. Thanks to the Thunder Fit Clinic presented by Homeland, Perkins’ message hit home.
“I think it’s always a plus to give back,” Perkins said of his afternoon with the children at Seeworth. “A lot of us that are in the NBA I know, including myself, grew up in situations where I didn’t have NBA players to come to my school or whatever it may be and just teach the importance of fitness. Just being here sometimes brings a smile on their faces. I think it’s always a plus that we can come back and it always feels great on the inside.”
Perkins wasn’t the only one who felt great on the inside, as teammates Kevin Durant and Eric Maynor joined in on the afternoon at the charter school that takes in at-risk children and helps them get back into an organized learning environment. Many of the children at Seeworth Academy would not be in school or worse if it weren’t for school founder Alma Wilson and her daughter and board member, Lee Anne Wilson.
“I just can’t imagine what it means to most of these kids,” Lee Anne Wilson said. “Most of these kids, they would not be in any school today if it wasn’t for Seeworth. The kids that we graduate every year never would graduate if, in fact, they didn’t go to school here… Most of these kids, I don’t think they’d have that basic information if it wasn’t for Seeworth and people like Kevin Durant coming from the community to give them that kind of information.”
At the Thunder Fit Clinic, which is a staple of the Thunder Cares community service program, players help students learn about proper nutrition, exercise techniques and even basketball skills. As soon as Durant stepped on the court he immediately grabbed a basketball and popped in a quick layup. He couldn’t help himself but get one shot in before he started teaching dribbling drills and directing shooting lines.
“It brought back memories of when I was a kid,” Durant said. “It’s fun being here. Interacting with the kids is something that we all enjoy doing, so it was fun and exciting. Putting it together with basketball makes it even better.”
Despite the fact that the Thunder played back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday, including a game at Milwaukee less than 18 hours prior to the event, all three players had ample energy to devote to the children. The combination of community service, life lessons and basketball is a conglomerate that Thunder players like Maynor really cherish. This is the third community event in a week and a half for Maynor, who seemed to particularly enjoy his time at Seeworth because of how close to home it hit.
“It’s different because this is where it all started for us,” Maynor said. “Just to come in here and see some of the people that are really interested in trying to get better at basketball. It’s a lot of fun.”
Whether it was Maynor leading huddles that ended in “Go Thunder” cheers or Perkins being challenged to a one-on-one game by one of the students, the trio of Thunder players had a great time interacting with the students. As the afternoon came to a close, however, it was time to get serious, which was a perfect opportunity for Perkins to step up and deliver a message to the students, which also made an impact on Durant.
“I think the most important thing is telling them they can do anything in life,” Durant said. “It doesn’t have to be basketball. Perk said a great thing, that you have to come out with an open mind. Kids, of course, think they know everything. It’s just great to come out here and show them the type of guys we are every single day.”
The students truly were able to see just how down to earth the Thunder players are, and from speaking with school leaders like Wilson and vice principal Tarrence Rodgers, it is clear that this will be a day that Seeworth Academy won’t soon forget. For players like Perkins, whose message truly seemed to come from the heart, it was just as important to be out in the Oklahoma City community, connecting with Thunder fans.
“One thing about it is that we have the best fans in the world, best supporting cast in the world,” Perkins said. “To give back to our fans, just shows gratitude and appreciation. We appreciate them a lot. We appreciate the community and anytime we can step in the community and do what we can for the school or the kids that are less fortunate is always a plus.”