Thunder's Kevin Durant gaining celebrity status

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Kevin Durant seems to be everywhere these days.

There he is on TV, sporting a Jheri curl and doing his best '70s rap impersonation. He spent three days in Hong Kong as an ambassador during the NBA Madness 2009 event. He's back in Texas taking college classes, as well as trying out for the U.S. national basketball team in Vegas. He's shuttling back and forth between his childhood home near Washington and his in-season home in Oklahoma City.

And in between, the Oklahoma City Thunder's star is in the gym every chance he gets to work on improving a team that won only 23 games last season.

Durant called it "truly a blessing" that basketball has allowed him to see the world and have such memorable experiences, like dining on a mountain with his mom during that trip to China.

But as many opportunities as Durant has been given, he's earned them all. After getting back from overseas, he immediately resumed working out with his teammates in Oklahoma City more than three weeks before the start of training camp. While he was taking a health class at Texas, he hit the gym with fellow Longhorns alums and NBA players like D.J. Augustin and Royal Ivey.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said it's that daily devotion to getting better and a respect for the game that drive Durant's success.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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