Kevin Durant showed up for his Washington, D.C. Goodman League summer debut on Sunday with lots of people to please, but little to prove. After all, the NBA's reigning scoring champion did give spectators at Barry Farms something to remember last summer with a 62-point outburst.
Topping that feat would've been difficult for even the modest NBA 2K champion, let alone the NBA's leading scorer. But fans didn't withstand the sweltering heat and bypass the first half of Sunday night's NBA Finals to see the extreme; they just came to show support for one of the best homegrown ballers in the league do his thing. And Durant answered their wishes.
His performance wasn't 62-point-esque but Durant managed to raise enough "oohs" and "aahs" through his 35 points from a packed crowd to grade his Goodman League debut as a success. Playing alongside the Washington Wizards' Andray Blatche, Durant and Blatche dazzled at times "inside the gates" for their 3rd Eye ball club.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forward launched the first shot of the game. It was a three-pointer that grazed off the rim before he executed a spin move on his next possession and finished with a one-handed dunk. That would turn into an ongoing theme for much of the night for the 21-year-old nicknamed "KD."
While his normally reliable jumpshot wasn't falling, KD was busy attacking the rim and finishing strong with two-handed and one-handed rim rattlers, clapping his hands after explosive finishes and face-flexing to the crowd.
"KD is officially here at the big show," announcer Miles Rawls bellowed whenever Durant would throw one down.
Watching the 6'10" scoring machine glide up and down the court with his smooth handle and crossovers galore made a few onlookers shake their heads in disbelief. If you've been watching Durant emerge as one of the NBA's best players over the last three seasons, though, the display came as no surprise.
Durant wasn't the only NBA specimen impressing. Much like his Wizards' responsibilities, Blatche did a little bit of everything on Sunday. Rebounding, passing, and scoring, Blatche recorded a few "oohs" and "aahs" on his own, courtesy of some slick crossovers and a few athletic finishes.
But while NBAers Blatche and Durant were starring, it was Team Cricket's pair of And1 superstars, Hugh "Baby Shaq" Jones and Lonnie "Prime Objective" Harrell, that stole the show.
Following along the lines of his And1 exploits, "Baby Shaq" made play after play during the evening's twilight game, scoring at will and swishing the final shot in overtime that sent Durant and his 3rd Eye team home losers on the night.
Despite the defeat, Durant's presence alone made winners out of the neighborhood kids who arrived by the masses to see him. With their fingers pointed in amazement and juice stains decorating their shirts, star-struck youngsters applauded Durant's every move and grinned in excitement with his every dunk.
Durant didn't have to top 60 on the evening; he just had to show up.
And for local D.C. residents on Sunday night, that's all anybody could ask for.