Durant and Green Bring D.C. Style to Other Washington
Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| June 29, 2007
As talented basketball prospects of similar ages growing up in Maryland near Washington, D.C., Kevin Durant and Jeff Green couldn't help but take notice of each other on the local basketball circuit.
"When I first saw Jeff, we were at a tournament," Durant recalled. "He was tall - 6-7, 6-8. I think it was my freshman year. I was wondering, 'Who is this guy playing?' I followed him from there."
"When it was finalized, I was smiling from ear to ear - coming out here to a great organization, playing alongside Kevin."
Green first became aware of Durant, playing at the time for the D.C. Blue Devils, on the AAU circuit. "I was like, 'Wow,'" said Green. "Being 6-9 and doing the things he did when he was younger, that was unbelievable."
From a distance, Durant and Green watched each other develop into potential lottery picks. Now, they have achieved their NBA dream together. On Thursday, the Sonics selected Durant with the No. 2 overall pick. Hours later, they acquired the rights to Green, picked fifth by the Boston Celtics, in a multi-player deal. Friday, Durant and Green flew from New York, where they attended the Draft, to Seattle to be introduced to the local media as the newest members of the Sonics.
"Being able to see that I could be able to play with this guy was good for me," Green said of his reaction to news of a possible trade to the Sonics. "Then, when it was finalized, I was smiling from ear to ear - coming out here to a great organization, playing alongside Kevin. I feel like we have a lot of chemistry and a lot of good things can happen this way."
"Once my name was called, I was very happy to be coming to Seattle," said Durant. "I know the fans support their team 110% and I can't wait to get out there (and play)."
While Thursday's Draft was a big night for the Sonics, it was also a big night for the Washington, D.C. basketball community with Durant and Green both going amongst the Draft's top five picks. There is more talent on the way; Green's Georgetown teammate Roy Hibbert was a likely lottery pick before deciding to return for his senior season. Five players from the state of Maryland were chosen for this year's McDonald's High School All-American game and Maryland native Tywon Lawson just completed his freshman season as North Carolina's starting point guard. Hibbert, Lawson and Kansas State-bound Michael Beasley are all possible 2008 lottery picks.
Durant and Green are excited about being a part of a surge of talent coming into basketball's highest levels from the nation's capital.
"D.C. basketball is on its way up," said Durant. "We have a lot of great high school players right now. You're going to see them up on this level pretty soon. Also a couple of guys we've got in the NBA [including guard Delonte West, acquired by the Sonics in the deal with Boston]. It's going to be fun seeing everybody from D.C. playing in the NBA."
"There's a lot of talent coming out of the metropolitan area," added Green. "Seeing me and Kevin come out and be top-five picks from the area really puts D.C. back on the map for the players that came up there."
From across the nation, Durant and Green bring a distinctly D.C. style to Seattle. It's one that, as they describe it, dovetails perfectly with the kind of team new General Manager Sam Presti hopes to build with the Sonics.
"I think everyone in D.C. likes a fast-paced game," explained Durant. "Getting up and down, dunking, shooting three-pointers. Doing everything. I think people from D.C. pride themselves on being versatile. That's one thing we love to do."
"We just play," said Green. "We play hard. We're very versatile people; we can do a lot of things on the floor. We're hard players who work hard on our game and try to be the best players we can be."
Those attributes, particularly versatility and work ethic, attracted Presti to the D.C. duo. Since the Draft, he has emphasized the matchup difficulties that Durant and Green can create with their ability to do it all from the forward positions, as well as the importance of their character and their dedication. In Presti's vision, versatility enables Durant and Green to set each other up, along with their teammates.
Already, that chemistry was evident during the press conference, as Durant and Green agreed with each other almost without exception on their expectations and their excitement to be playing for the Sonics.
As they make the transition to the NBA a continent away from where they grew up, Durant and Green can each feel comfortable that a friend is going through the same process alongside him.
"We both came here at the same time," said Green. "I think that's good for the franchise and good for each other because we're going to make things easier for each other. I think the sky's the limit for me and Kevin if we just work hard and continue to get better."
"It's still going to be tough," concluded Durant, "but it's going to be easier than I thought because somebody from Washington, D.C. is with me - two guys; also Delonte West. We'll learn a lot of new things. Learning new things together is going to be the best thing between me and Jeff. I can't wait to get started."