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Loud Links: 02|15|10

FOXNews.com - Durant acts like star only on court
Kevin Durant, not unlike all those whom he'll playing with and against this weekend at the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, is rich. Filthy rich. The 21-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder star has a salary that pays him nearly $5 million this season and a Nike deal worth about $10 million per year.

Yet Durant buys his shirts at Wal-Mart, drives a conversion van so his cousins are comfortable and spent more than a month sleeping on an air mattress this past summer. ``Ten shirts for eighty dollars," Durant said with a chuckle of the deal he was able to get at Wal-Mart. ``You can't beat that."

2010 NBA All-Star Game Scorecard: West All-Stars - ESPN
Kevin Durant SF | Oklahoma City Thunder

Grade: B - Durant would have been a good choice to shoot with the game on the line, but Karl was subbing him in and out with Nowitzki. He made half of his 14 shots, along with five rebounds and two turnovers.

Thunder Insider: A ‘dream’ night for Durant | NewsOK.com
Moments later, his heartbeat noticeably was dialed up, pumping through his baggy white and red and blue stripped All-Star warm-up during official introductions, when, at 7:33 p.m., the public address announcer bellowed, "From the University of Texas and the Oklahoma City Thunder......Kevin Durant."

The crowd went cuckoo, Durant acknowledged the 108,713 inside Cowboys Stadium with a hook ‘em horns sign, then he darted down the platform’s stage to take his place among the game’s best and brightest. It was his official welcome to the club. "It happened so quick," Durant said of his first All-Star appearance. "It felt like a dream to me."

NBA Basketball Rumors - ESPN Insider
USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo will have to make some tough decisions when selecting the final roster for this summer at the World Championships, but Kevin Durant isn't one of them. The Thunder small forward appears to be a lock to make the team. "Durant has kind of separated himself," Colangelo told The Oklahoman. "If you look at his numbers and what he brings to the table ... He came close to making it last time as a kid. So without overkilling this thing, I would just say I'm almost certain Durant will be part of our next squad regardless of who else is on it."

NBA Insider | Cleveland Cavaliers - cleveland.com
Yes, it was picking a player from the host city. But Kidd is having a solid, but not stellar season. He's averaging 9.3 points and 9.3 assists for a team that has played .500 ball since Jan. 1. Also, selecting him had nothing to do with weather problems and travel to Dallas, Kidd was actually in Phoenix playing golf when he got the call.

A player who has a right to be displeased is Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who, like many things in Oklahoma City, is flying under the radar. Westbrook has been playing fantastic, averaging 16 points, five rebounds and 7.5 assists in his second season.

The Thunder, meanwhile, hit the All-Star break on a six-game win streak and at 30-21 have the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. Westbrook's statement on the matter came Friday night, when he was clearly the best player on the floor in the Rookie Challenge, finishing with 40 points to lead the sophomore team.

The Chronicle - Running diary of NBA All-Star Saturday night
On that note, why are people not hopping on the Thunder bandwagon? Is it because Scotty Brooks is not a known commodity? Is it because they are a young team? The Thunder have a legitimate superstar in Durant, who can score 30 points every game and carry a team on his back over a long stretch of time. They have good supporting talent in Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Jeff Green. Lastly, they have an excellent perimeter defender in Thabo Sefalosha, one of the more underrated players in the league and could nullify one of the better guards in the West in the early rounds of the playoffs. Not only will the Thunder make the playoffs this year, I personally believe they will win a first round series.

Basketball: Thunder's Durant is on a roll - Others, More Sports - The Independent
While blazing a trail on the court, Durant's life has been tinged by tragedy off it. He wears the number 35 for Charles Craig, who was murdered five years ago. "He was my first coach, a guy that pushed me and wanted me to get to my highest peak. For that to be taken away was a shock, someone I thought would never die. That was just hard for him to go, God calling him in. So I honor him every time I step on the court by wearing No 35 – for the number of years he was on this earth."

Tim Legler: Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant ready to take Dallas by storm - ESPN
This year, Kevin Durant the superstar has arrived. I don't throw around that label lightly. There are only four current players whom I would consider superstars: James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Tim Duncan. Now Durant wants a seat at the table.

I don't want to hear that a guy can't be a superstar until he has won big or at least gotten to the playoffs. LeBron was a certified superstar by his third season and hadn't been to the playoffs yet. When you see it, you know it. Durant has that "it" factor. His ascension to the top shelf has come through hard work and attention to his weaknesses in his first two seasons. He has finally come to understand that he needs to be a consistent rebounder, a committed defender and a willing playmaker in order to be mentioned in the same sentence as the game's top players. At this point, he has accomplished all that and more.

All-Star: Harden Living The Dream - Basketball News & NBA Rumors -
Look up the word "poise" in the dictionary, and don't be surprised to see rookie James Harden's picture. The 20-year-old shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder is as calm and composed as they come; traits undoubtedly known to General Manager Sam Presti prior to drafting Harden last summer with his number three pick.

Harden is at All-Star weekend in Dallas after being selected with eight other rookies to participate in the Rookie-Sophomore game. "I'm still in shock a little bit," Harden tells HOOSPWORLD about his All-Star participation. "I'm living it up, just having fun, just meeting new people, just going out there and experiencing it. (It's) a dream come true. This is the biggest stage in the NBA."