A very slow sports day–Mariners lost, big surprise–gives me a chance to relay this perhaps also unsurprising information: Kevin Durant’s incredible performance at the FIBA World Basketball Championships did not captivate Seattle hoops fans.
I made a point last week of asking big Sonics fan friends of mine if they were watching Durant tear up the rest of the world. “Still too painful,” was one response. “Can’t get into USA Basketball,” was another.
Nothing so odd about this, I suppose. I don’t remember many Mariner fans following Ichiro closely during the World Baseball Classic. Still, Durant is going to hold a special place in Seattle basketball history. As a 21-year-old who’s already one of the NBA’s best, it seems inevitable that Durant will be the Last Sonic Standing–the final player to have worn a Sonic uniform that’s still in the NBA. At some point, possibly as late as the Roarin’ 2030s, Durant will retire, breaking the on-court link to the Sonics forever.
Durant averaged a pedestrian-sounding 22.8 ppg during Team USA’s gold medal run. That stat lies. Look a little deeper.
Durant scored 205 points in 254 minutes — that’s a 38.7 ppg average per 48 minutes. And perhaps most stunning of all, Durant scored those 205 points on just 133 shots.
In the final against Turkey, unquestionably the biggest game of Durant’s nascent career, he shot 7-13 from three-point range. This is no John Starks.
For me, it was thrilling to watch Durant take over the biggest basketball competition in the world. I watched a fair number of games during his rookie season, when he was struggling with his stamina, with his shot, and with a terrible coach. (All you need to know about P.J. Carlesimo as an NBA head coach is this–Carlesimo had Kevin Durant for 94 games and won only 21 of them.) Three summers later, he’s undoubtedly among the best basketball players in the world.
Good for you, Kev. In my mind, you’re keeping the spirit of the Sonics alive just a bit.
What They’re Saying…
“The beauty about Kevin is he’s pure. He’s not trying to do anything except play basketball and get better.” Mike Krzyzewski [AFP]
“Not satisfied ….still have a lot to learn…the game is so much more mental.” Earl Thomas, via Twitter.
“This whole thing is, quite simply, an organizational failure. It probably cost Carmen Fusco his job. It might cost more people their jobs before this thing is over with. It might cost Jack Zduriencik his job.” Dave Cameron on LuekeGate [USS Mariner]
In Other News…
WNBA Finals Game 2 is tonight at KeyArena!!!
The M’s front office guy who got fired yesterday, Carmen Fusco? Guy was a childhood friend of Zduriencik’s. So, yeah, Dr. Z probably isn’t the one who made the call.
Jermaine Kearse won Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.
By the way, did you see how bad UCLA lost on Saturday? 35-0 to Stanford! They do not have a quarterback, and it looks like it’s going to be a long year.
Seahawks RG Max Unger injured a toe, he’s out for the Broncos game. Former Bronco Ben Hamilton will step into the starting lineup.
The Hawks get Leroy Hill back next week. Hill won’t start, but he will play.
This incredible photo of Nate Robinson doing the Stanky Legg with Storm mascot Doppler is now my desktop wallpaper.
The Sounders have sold 22,000 tickets for the U.S. Open Cup Final October 5 at Qwest. If all those folks show up, we’ll beat the 81-year-old attendance record for the event. The 1921 Cup Final between New York Hakoah and Madison Kennel Club of St. Louis was watched by 21,583. (Of course, millions more would later say they were there.)
The Eagles signed Owen Schmitt to replace the injured Leonard Weaver.
Enjoy Paul Wulff’s Tyrone Willingham impersonation while you can–based on these comments from Wazzu AD Bill Moos, sounds like Wulff’s as good as gone at year’s end.
Continuing the Pac-10 schadenfreude theme: Oregon opens their new hoops arena next year…but will they have a hoops team to play there? The Ducks are down to 9 scholarship players after Michael Dunigan bailed to play pro ball in Israel. Percy Allen notes that only two of those guys are taller than 6’6″.
Storm vs. Atlanta @ KeyArena, WNBA Finals Game 2, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sounders @ Saprissa (Costa Rica), CONCACAF Champions League, 7 p.m. (FSC)
Mariners vs. Boston @ Safeco, French vs. Dice-K, 7:10 p.m. (FSN)