A night after he lit up Rucker Park in New York City for 66 points, two-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant continued his summer ball tour by taking the court at Baruch College for the Nike Pro City league.
Durant took the hardwood with a number of NBA players, forming what could surely be considered a street ball All-Atar team. Donning black and yellow for "The Franchise," joining Durant were Pacers starting center Roy Hibbert and other NBA talents such as the Nets' Sundiata Gaines, former Knick Andre Barrett and St. John's forward Justin Burrell.
Durant was clearly the most celebrated star of the evening. However, Bulls guard John Lucas III, who was on the opposing side as Durant scored 66 on Monday, found himself as Durant's opponent once again on Tuesday. He clearly came out with a vengeance.
While Durant and company came out firing from the start, Lucas and "Big Apple Basketball," which also featured Paris Horne of St. John's, fought their way back as The Franchise clearly seemed too relaxed down the stretch, as some sloppy play allow Lucas to go on a scoring rampage. Big Apple Basketball roared back and actually took the lead in the final seconds. The crowd was going wild as a fringe NBA guard led the charge versus an NBA MVP candidate, proving that anything is possible in New York City basketball.
Even during the surprising and colossal collapse, Durant kept his cool and took the ball for his team through regulation's final possession. With the capacity crowd on its feet, Durant sank a three pointer in the corner to send the game into overtime.
Though Lucas powered all the way through a 60-point performance, the momentum was clearly in favor of The Franchise, as Durant and his team brought home a 146-143 victory.
Clearly a scoring explosion for all, Lucas' tremendous performance this time had the edge on Durant's 41 points. Aside from those two, Barrett (who donned orange and blue briefly in 2004 and has bounced around the NBA/D-League ever since) impressed with his skills as a floor general, creating a great one-two punch with "The Durantula" by providing him with pin-point passes over and over again, connecting on an array of dunks and even displaying a sweet stroke of his own. Barrett poured in 30 points, and even at 29 years of age, he proved he still deserves a chance to break back into the NBA.
Also impressing once again was Burrell. The St. John's forward excited fans with his freakish athleticism during the Malone Mulhall Benefit Game earlier last weekend, and he certainly did not disappoint the Nike Pro City crowd either. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer, St. John's own Malik Boothe and DJ Clue were all on hand to take in the exciting contest.
Also in the building was Smush Parker, who played in a earlier Pro City matchup. He was notably the Lakers' starting point guard next to Kobe Bryant from 2005-2007. Parker still displayed a decent shot and good hands on defense, and he was an effective orchestrator with the ball for his team. He has bounced around since last playing in the NBA in 2008.
The Nike Pro City games are free of charge to fans, who clearly get the treat of some serious NBA talents dropping by. For players like Durant, the opportunity to experience New York City basketball, display his talents, as well as hear and feel the excitement of the crowds may give him and other players the incentive to keep coming back to leagues like this. Not only to give the fans their basketball fix, but to suffice his own during the NBA lockout.
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