6.14.2012

Lessons Learned for Kevin Durant: "People can say this and that. I learn to just tune it out and just play my game"



By Brother Jesse


No, don’t worry: I am not trying to jump on the Oklahoma Thunder bandwagon with this post. Most who know me, know that I haven’t rooted for a NBA team since Houston broke up our back-to-back Rockets championship teams. Matter of fact, I just started back watching more NBA games within the last two seasons. Although I was once a recovering basketball-a-holic, I stopped watching it. Yes, it was that deep. (smile)

However, even if I don’t watch sports that does not mean I’m not studying the lives of certain athletes, and even entertainers, who have caught my eye based upon the way they manage their lives—in and away from the spotlight.

Everyone’s life is either an example or a warning. It's the everyday decisions we make that either build our will or destroy it.

Kevin Durant caught my attention during his days at the University of Texas. His versatility on the court was awesome, but I also noticed he was extremely humble—barely showing much emotion. He reminded me of how Tim Duncan was when he first entered the league and people would call him “too soft” because he did not express enough emotion on the court. Well, look at Duncan’s career now. What would have happened to him had he just listened to his critics and became the person they wanted him to be versus the person he knew he was?

Durant’s star is rising quickly. I admire the way he’s just taking it all in and not getting easily swept away by the applause, adulation and fame. One of my friends recently emailed me an article about him and to my surprise he actually considered quitting the game of basketball twice before entering UT. Yes, twice. He simply got tired of the basketball work and the other time he was disappointed that college scouts kept overlooking him. Who drove him to stick to it? His mother. A single Black mother who worked late night shifts to take care of him and his brother. She believed that one day those scouts would regret overlooking her baby. She was right.

He is without question one of the best in the game. But what I most admire is his humility and quiet confidence. Following their Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, Durant said in an interview, “I have faith in all those things that I do day in and day out: Coming in, working hard, believing in myself and my teammates, and believing in the system. Whatever happens after that, it happens, as long as I know that I come in and give it my all every single day, I can't worry about what other people say or expectations they put on me. It's just all about how I view myself and how my teammates view me, and we'll go from there."

In response to criticism, he said “I don't want to sound like a jerk or anything, but I really don't care what people say outside the locker room, outside of this organization, what I need to do or what I didn't do. I really don't care. You know, I'm a guy that lets the game come to me but is also aggressive at the same time. I know when to take shots, when to make the right play. People can say this and that. I learn to just tune it out and just play my game….Just got to be ready for the next day and prepare myself right for whatever happens.”

With that type of attitude, you can’t lose. Let’s not give up on ourselves despite the challenges because we never know when our moment will come. Stay dedicated, believe in your skills and don’t get carried away with the applause. (smile)

P.S.—OKC is going to win in six games. Ha!

(Follow Brother Jesse on Twitter  https://twitter.com/#!/brotherjesse)