Kevin Durant has continued to take his game to the next level. There was the first half of this season, when Durant was moved from shooting guard to small forward. There was the All-Star Weekend, when Durant scored an All-Star event record 46 points in the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam game. And there was the Thunder’s Feb. 17 home game against the New Orleans Hornets when Durant poured in a career-high 47 points in another last-second loss. There simply hasn’t been any slowing down for Durant this season.

It’s been no secret that Durant is the Thunder’s go-to player. But more and more, the team has also depended on him to be its playmaker. And his duties don’t stop there. Over time, the goal is for Durant to become a well-rounded player capable of affecting a game on either end of the floor.

Durant, who grew up outside of Washington, D.C., where he learned to play basketball from his childhood mentor and godfather, Taras Brown.

Brown is one of the most influential people in Durant’s life, the basketball instructor at the Seat Pleasant Activities Center, where Durant seemingly spent every day of his childhood working to become good enough to do what his idol, NBA star Vince Carter, did for a living.

While his mother, Wanda Pratt, was at work with the U.S. Postal Service, Durant was either at school or with Brown, who took a tough-love approach with him.

Brown even gave Durant homework assignments. During a road trip their AAU team took to Charlotte, Durant had to write “Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Fails To Work Hard” on the front and back of four pages of paper before he could play.

That phrase was a constant reminder of how Durant should approach every day in a gym, whether he was at the rec center, high school, the University of Texas for a year, or to this day as a second-year professional basketball player and the reigning Rookie of the Year. In some ways, it’s helped define him.


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