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The Durant dichotomy: Team USA's superstar reluctant to be cast as one

Kevin Durant said he wanted badly to play for the national team, but as its leader, he's uncomfortable cast as the face of Team USA.
Kevin Durant said he wanted badly to play for the national team, but as its leader, he's uncomfortable cast as the face of Team USA. (Kostas Tsironis)
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"No one can change their stripes, their colors. They are who they are. And Kevin leads by example. And the more he performs the level he's capable of playing, that's the leadership we'll get out of him."

Durant said winning a gold medal in Turkey would cap off a productive summer, one in which he signed perhaps the league's last five-year, maximum-salaried extension under the current collective bargaining agreement - an approximate $85 million deal he quietly announced on his Twitter account. He also saw his $25,000 donation last year finally lead to the completion of Durant's Den, a gaming room and lounge at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, where he spent countless hours honing the skills that helped him become the youngest scoring champion in NBA history.

"It's pretty cool," Durant said of his higher profile. "Something I never really dreamed about. All this stuff is kind of surreal to me. . . . I didn't think I'd be in the league or none of that. It was making it to college. That's about it."

Earlier this month, Durant was surprised when he didn't get an invitation to President Obama's infamous White House pickup game featuring James, Bryant, Wade, Anthony, Rose, Billups, Chris Paul, Magic Johnson, Grant Hill and former Wizard Etan Thomas. But as evidence of his increased status, Durant was recently invited to meet with Obama at the White House after the world championships, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Durant understands he can no longer remain under the radar, with the Thunder slated to be on ABC, TNT and ESPN 15 times next season.

"They going to come harder, but I'm looking forward to that. I'm a big competitor," Durant said, adding he hopes to improve on the team's first-round exit last postseason.

"Our best years are only ahead of us, so we got to continue to keep pushing," he said. "If I continue to just get to the playoffs every year, I guess you could say I arrived, but right now I'm just trying to find my way."


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