With the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey close to starting, the national media has chosen Kevin Durant as it's new "it" man. And rightfully so.
Across the nation, people are writing about the Oklahoma City Thunder's superstar. Because of his humbleness and commitment to whatever team he is playing for, it's making it extremely easy for journalists across the globe to start the Durant love affair.
It will be interesting to see how Durant reacts to all the extra spotlight on him now that nobody from the 'Redeem Team' is on this summer's squad. With that said, Kevin Durant is clearly the main guy on this team and will have to adjust to being a lot more vocal as a leader, not just leading by example.
Here's just a small glimpse of articles that are being written on Durant's new role this summer:
Oly Sandor - HoopsVibe.com:
"He will be the leader for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Three years into his NBA career, Kevin Durant has impressed. He has helped the Oklahoma City Thunder become the team to watch. He has become an elite player. And he has handled himself with class.
However, the global spotlight will be unlike anything he has ever faced."
Steve Carp - Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"For the time being, there's a new face of USA Basketball.
A fresh, polite, kind face. Wealthy, too.
For better or worse, Team USA will attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics next month without any of the players who won the gold medal two years ago in Beijing. Looking to help fill that void is Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer last season."
Chris Sheridan - ESPN.com:
"Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski calls him the only player guaranteed to make the final cut. USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo says he will be the face of the American team throughout the summer of 2010.
Kevin Durant is having none of it. At least, so he claims.
"I doubt I'm the next face; I'm just another guy helping to bring a gold back to the U.S. It's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," Durant said on what turned out to be a rough first day of minicamp for Team USA."
Chris Silva - Thunder.NBA.com:
"USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Durant deserves to be treated as a focal point of this year’s team. But Durant took the same team-first approach he has always taken in Oklahoma City.
“One thing that really stood out to me from the coaching staff is it’s not a face, it’s not one guy being the face,” Durant said. “It’s all of us going out there and representing the U.S. That’s one thing I really like. Not one guy on that last team was the face. Kobe Bryant wasn’t, LeBron wasn’t, D-Wade wasn’t. Everybody was equal, so I’m happy to be a part of something here.”
Despite needling by reporters, Durant stayed true to his claim that this is about the team, not the individual."
Marc J. Spears - Yahoo! Sports:
"Durant believes that, but at just 21 years old, he’s also now one of the five best players in the NBA. And Bryant, James and Wade won’t be in Turkey, so the spotlight will shine brightest on him.
Said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo: ”Is he the centerpiece? Absolutely.”
Having a couple of veterans like Billups and Odom should help Durant and Team USA’s other young players."
With all the new added pressure, leadership and spotlight, it only makes the Durantula a better player. He'll be used to pushing teammates past their comfort zone. Also, he'll be pushing himself defensively and will be passing a lot more.
Who knows, maybe this is exactly what Kevin Durant, heck, even the Oklahoma City Thunder need to take the next step towards competing for a championship.