OAKLAND — Kevin Durant was already having an excellent day long before he dropped 28 points on his erstwhile employer, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.
Some eight hours before tipoff of the Golden State Warriors’ resounding 112-80 win, the league gave Durant the January NBA Cares Community Assist award, bestowed upon the player who makes continuing efforts to support children, families, education and grassroots community organizations.
Head coach Steve Kerr opened his pregame press conference by praising Durant for his efforts.
“It’s a pretty good reminder of the good that he’s done,” Kerr said. “You think about it, donating $3 million to University of Texas last month.”
Less than a couple hours later, Durant announced he was investing $10 million in College Track, a program that helps disadvantages students from his hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland attend college.
After the beatdown of the Thunder, Durant played it cool when asked about his philanthropic generosity.
“As far as being honored, that’s really cool but I’ve got to continue to leave my mark off the basketball court as well,” Durant said. “So, I’m looking forward to doing that.”
Kerr was more expansive when detailing the off-court impact of Durant and his teammates.
“The guy does so much good — like a lot of our players, all of our players — do so much good out there,” Kerr said. “They entertain people which is a big deal but they’re out there doing a lot of good work in our community and I’m really proud of Kevin and proud of all our guys.”
The coach was also proud of his guys on the floor after a standout performance against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that had handed it to the Warriors on back to back occasion. The Thunder has won the first two games of the season series by a combined margin of 37 points.
The coach wouldn’t go so far as to call it a statement game.
“Exactly what would we have announced?” Kerr quipped. “We made the statement that we are now 46-14. So, we beat a good team. We played a good game.”
While Durant was the high-point man and Stephen Curry chipped in five triples on his way to scoring 21 points, the MVPs received a much needed boost from Nick Young, the eccentric reserve wing.
Young poured in 16 points off the bench, splashes four 3-pointers on five attempts.
“They beat us two times — blew us out, embarrassed us,” Young said. “So, tonight was one of those games where we had to show up.”
Young drilled a 3-pointer just before the close of the third-quarter — when the Warriors outscored their guests 32-21 — and then proceeded to dance in front of the Thunder bench, prompting a shove from an agitated Russell Westbrook.
“It’s just Swaggy P being Swaggy P,” Young said of his dance moves. “My little shimmy. I seen people stealing my style out there. So, I had to come up with something new.”
Durant, like Kerr, declined to make too much of the dismantling of Westbrook and friends.
“It was a game we wanted to win,” Durant said. “We wanted to play well in. I think [on the] defensive side of the ball it was a good game for us to kind of gain some ground on that side of the ball. I think that was good for us. We’ve got to build that consistency up. The next game it’s got to be the same effort.”
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