WICHITA, Kan.—Before getting too excited, please understand that Kevin Durant’s current contract ends after the 2015-16 season and the Thunder superstar has never even come close to indicating he’s unhappy in Oklahoma City.
That said, as complimentary as the small forward was of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, not seen as a warm, fuzzy personality, Durant’s comments will lead some to believe that he wouldn’t mind dealing with the cold Chicago winters, particularly given his close friendship with Derrick Rose.
“Man, he’s all in,” Durant, a three-time NBA scoring leader, said before the Thunder’s “home game” against the Bulls at Intrust Bank Arena. “He’s one of those guys that relates to players, but he’s a no-nonsense type of guy.
“I had a nice little talk with him for about 30 minutes, leaving a workout and he really put that in perspective for me as a player. I learned a lot from talking to him,” he continued. “He’s been around the game. He’s been around so many great minds and won a championship in Boston, had so much success with Chicago, so he’s a bright, bright coach and I learned a lot.”
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The appreciation between the coach and player is mutual, though Thibodeau was quick to clarify that the summer encounter was a chance meeting — in Los Angeles to observe a Rose workout, he bumped into to Durant, who works out with the Chicago native in the offseason under the guidance of trainer Rob McClanaghan — so as not to be in violation of the league’s tampering rules.
“He was working out in the same facility Derrick was in. He was finishing up. There were about four or five guys there, [Minnesota Timberwolves power forward] Kevin Love being one of them, [Denver Nuggets point guard] Ty Lawson. They work incredibly hard,” Thibodeau explained. “Then he was around USA Basketball. You could just see the type of commitment. It’s not only his talent, but he’s such a great worker. I know Coach K [USA Basketball and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski, a Windy City native] and [USA Basketball chairman and fellow Chicagoan] Jerry Colangelo raved about him also, and I know [Thunder head coach] Scott Brooks. I know how he feels about him. It’s more what his actions are than anything else, the way he carries himself. The league is in great shape when you have guys like that.
“The thing is I think our league is in really good shape because of guys like Kevin, Derrick Rose, they’re special. This summer was happenstance. He happened to be working out at the same gym as Derrick, and I caught the tail end of his workout, and it spoke volumes on his commitment to his improvement, team, readiness to play, all those things. When you have that type of commitment you can see why this team is so good,” he went on to gush. “I coached Scott, he’s told me a lot about Kevin, and then Coach K said the exact same things about him. It’s special when you have a player like that. And those type of players are never satisfied, they continue to work on putting everything they have each and every day, and that’s why they get better each year.”