Last night in Tulsa, Kevin Durant was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Not the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, but the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Of this year's eight nominees, Durant was the only person to be inducted under 50 years old.
The event was significant enough to draw interest from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who flew in from New York City to witness the event. Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, General Manager Sam Presti, and 11 of KD's 14 teammates were also on hand. But perhaps the most significant presence was that of Russell Westbrook. Durant personally selected Westbrook to introduce him for the award. It was a huge show of support between the two teammates, who appear to have no bad blood whatsoever.
When asked why he selected Westbrook, Durant had this to say:
"That was an easy pick. Somebody that's with me more than anybody, who knows me inside and out. Just wanted to share this night with him."
During his speech, Durant made clear how much the state meant to him:
"Growing up here as teenager to a young man, I've been through a lot here. It's just molded me into who I am and everything I've done. Whether it's just letting people know where I live or who I play for, it's all from the heart. I've been through so much being here and it feels great to be in the Hall of Fame."
The event will air on local PBS affiliate OETA, tomorrow at 8 PM. No word on whether the whole ceremony will be put online.
Obviously, swirling around this event is the fact that Kevin Durant will become an unrestricted free agent this fall. The event could be seen as part of a ploy to keep Durant in town. The Thunder were a major sponsor of the 2015 Oklahoma Hall of Fame induction ceremony, for what that's worth. But from everything I've seen, Durant appears to be happy with where he is at right now. And Oklahoma couldn't have asked Durant to stay in a much classier way.
"My last speech, I had everybody up here that helped me get here. But I don't think this stage could fit everyone from Oklahoma." -Kevin Durant