AS OF LATE August, Durant hadn't visited these or many other Seattle mainstays. But he does have a good head start on his Seattle tenure. No, he didn't spend much time in town this summer after the team drafted him; rather, the University of Texas phenom worked on his game, logging some time with USA Basketball and with the NBA summer league.
Understand this: Kevin Durant loves basketball. Seemingly physically unable to resist the lure of a WNBA ball orphaned at the far end of the Key Arena court, he snares it during a break between photo setups and fires shot after long-distance shot, rarely missing. When somebody else - the photographer - is doing the shooting, Durant, between clicks, mimes his three-point motion. "I see a basketball, and I have to shoot. It gets me excited every time I see a basketball," he says, acknowledging the obvious.
He moved to Seattle in mid-September, to a house on Mercer Island, where he'll be living with his mother and other family members. His poise and self-assurance make it easy to forget that Durant just turned 19. Only once during the interview does this bubble to the surface: Mom sidles up to him and, as he's enthusiastically recalling seeing R&B star Ne-Yo at the Showbox in June, squeezes a puddle of skin cream onto his pizza-size hands and begins to massage it in. Durant temporarily stops what he's saying and shoots her a look that's familiar to parents of teenagers everywhere.
He perks up when the conversation turns to steak and the procurement thereof at area bistros. Admitting that he has dined at only a few such places, he points to Metropolitan Grill and the Brooklyn as his early favorites. "They have all the steaks, all the sides, all the appetizers," he says.
Durant doesn't anticipate having much time off in the months ahead, and he figures that he'll spend whatever little downtime he has at the local movieplex. Still, he has already extended an open invitation to his former teammates at the University of Texas, and he relishes the idea of selling them on Seattle. "It was a family thing in Texas, and we're a family for life. If they come into town, we'll have something to eat and they'll come see the team," he says.