Boston will be deprived of a chance Friday night to see Kevin Durant, the leading scorer of the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, as the star forward takes a night off to rest his sore ankle.
But there's at least one guy at the TD Garden who's already witnessed plenty of the Thunder's budding superstar.
"I've watched Kevin grow up," said the Celtics' Delonte West, a fellow native of the Washington, D.C. area. "We come from the same hometown. I saw him in the gyms late at night, they were open 24 hours. I saw him on the playground, I watched him in college at Texas, and I played with him a little bit in Seattle.
"The guy just keeps getting better and better, you know. I think he's at the point where he realizes how good he is, but if I were to give him any advice, it would be to still take something from each game and each practice."
West played half a season with Durant in 2007-08 with the Seattle SuperSonics. He was traded to Seattle on draft night in 2007 — on the same night that the Sonics selected Durant with the No. 2 overall pick, they also traded Ray Allen and the draft rights to Glen Davis for a package including West.
West and Durant played 35 games together in Sonics green. West got a brief but very positive impression of the standout rookie.
"He's one of the hardest workers I've been around," West said of Durant. "He's always the first one in the gym and the last one to go. That's not just me hyping him up — he really is. He practices like he's the worst guy on the team. If he keeps that attitude, the sky's the limit for him."
West recalls that even as a child, he remembers seeing Durant and being impressed from day one.
"He was a tall, lanky kid," he said. "You could tell he was going to get even taller. The game came so easy for him. Offensively, he was so silky-smooth, and he could just score at will. I remember when we were younger, I used to watch him play. He would shoot from anywhere, man. As soon as he stepped on the floor, he had rhythm, and he had range. I used to see that from him as a young guy, so I knew how good he'd be when he got in the league.
"He was a few years younger than me, but I got to watch his progression. I watched him in high school, and then when he was in college, I was already in the league. But we always keep up with each other, us D.C. guys."
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