Thunder Players Drive Home Basics During Thunder Fit Clinic

Slowly, as students from Oklahoma City’s Centennial Mid-High School shot hoops and stretched, one head turned at a time toward the door of their gymnasium.

Slowly, they all realized that Thunder players Kevin Durant, James Harden and Royal Ivey had just walked into their school.

The three players joined students as they took part in Tuesday’s Thunder Fit Clinic, presented by Homeland, to help instill in them good fitness habits, knowledge of nutrition and a passion for basketball.

“It’d have been a dream for me to have an NBA player teach me the game,” Durant said as he led the students in dribbling and shooting drills. “Playing the game right is how it starts. Whatever you learn after that is a plus.”

All three players emphasized the need for young basketball players to work on the basic skills of the game.

“Easy passes. Catching and shooting. Learning how to dribble. Playing defense. Once you learn the fundamentals, everything else will come later, as you learn more,” Harden said.

A few of the kids quickly proved that they had some skills already under their belts. As Harden played blocker below the basket for a lay-up drill, one of the students surprised him by taking the ball in for a dunk.

Harden, who is a member of this year’s NBA/WNBA Fit Team, laughed and took a few catcalls from those watching – then made them cheer by blocking another student’s shot.

“We’re having fun out here today,” Ivey noted. “This is my thing – I love coaching, I love the kids and I just love being around them and seeing them smile.”

As the students rotated through four stations – dribbling and passing skills, shooting skills, cardio/fitness and nutrition – Ivey took charge of the group working on passing. He led them through a series of quick changes, telling them to switch between chest, bounce, overhead and even baseball passes, moving the students closer in or further apart every few beats as he continued to change it up.

“If you can’t learn and you can’t listen, you can’t do anything,” he said.

While drilling the fundamentals, the players smiled and joked with the kids. Durant called out one student for being “too cool to dive” during a defensive drill. It drove home the point, though – effort and teamwork are important to learning the game.

Thunder Fit Clinics are a part of the team’s ongoing commitment to fitness and nutrition. Visit the Thunder Fit page for more information on these clinics. The NBA also promotes healthy and active lifestyles in many ways, including with its NBA/WNBA Fit Team, which this year includes the Thunder’s James Harden. Visit the NBA Fit page for more information on the NBA's efforts.