BELLEVUE, Wash. - Kevin Durant became the first Seattle player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award - and perhaps the last. Durant, the national college player of the year at Texas and the No. 2 pick last year, averaged 20.3 points for the SuperSonics.
Seattle SuperSonics' Kevin Durant holds his trophy after he was named NBA basketball's Rookie of the Year, Thursday, May 1, 2008 in Bellevue, Wash. Durant averaged 20.3 points per game.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The youngest player in the league at 19 was a bright spot during a dismal basketball season in Seattle. The Sonics won 20 games, and team owner Clay Bennett recently got league approval to move the team to Oklahoma City.
Seattle has a trial date next month, its effort to make the Sonics play inside KeyArena for the final two seasons of their lease.
"It's good to shine some light on our team. You know, a lot of people aren't real fond of our team right now," Durant said Thursday.
Durant recently purchased a home in suburban Seattle. His mother, Wanda Pratt, lives with him. She and Durant's father, Wayne Pratt, joined four other family members at Thursday's announcement.
"I love Seattle. My home's here. My mother's here," Durant said, acknowledging where he plays next season is far out of his control.
Durant received 90 first-place votes (545 points) from a panel of 125 writers and broadcasters. Atlanta's Al Horford finished second with 390 points, and Houston's Luis Scola was third with 146 points.
"I didn't think I would get it," Durant said, "because those other rookies helped their teams get into the playoffs."
One of the first text messages of congratulations Durant received was from Cleveland superstar LeBron James, whom Durant calls a mentor and good friend. Durant attended James' playoff games with the Cavaliers and the Wizards in Durant's hometown of Washington last weekend.
James was the Rookie of the Year in 2004.
"He told me congratulations," Durant said. "That's when I was thinking like, man, I'm in the same company as LeBron, when he was a rookie. I just smiled inside.
"He's like a big brother to me."