It actually used to be an old skating rink, the air outside stained with the faint smell of dog food because of a production plant nearby. It was our second year in Oklahoma City, coming off a 23-59 debut season, one we started 3-29 and had people wondering if we were the worst team of all time.
But this was different. I’d played one season already with Kevin Durant, but he was getting really good. Russell Westbrook was still trying to dunk everything, but he was getting better. James Harden was our new draft pick, and even though he’d just gotten here, he already knew what to do.official nfl jerseys cheap
There was a new guy named Serge Ibaka that they’d drafted a year before, but he was here earlier than they thought. I wasn’t sure if he spoke English, but man, he was a freak athletically.
I remember thinking, “Are we good? I think we’re good.”
Nobody knew at the time that there were two MVPs — and a likely future one — in that gym.
I’ve played with some incredible players, future Hall of Famers, and had the unique experience of spending my entire career with one franchise, but in two different cities.
I started in cold gyms in small towns in Iowa and ended up playing in more than 1,000 games over 15 years in the best league in the world. I’ve had an incredible run. I’m proud of my career.
But it’s time to go. I’m retiring from competitive basketball.nfl authentic jerseys cheap
I spent four years in Lawrence, Kansas, developing habits playing for the Jayhawks that prepared me to play in the NBA. Coach Roy Williams held me accountable: Preseason conditioning, three-hour practices, “gut checks,” weights, homework, studying were how I learned to handle my business. And Allen Fieldhouse is incredible — the absolute best place for basketball in the world.
I didn’t know anything about Seattle when I was drafted 12th overall by the SuperSonics in 2003. On the third day of my first training camp, I dislocated my shoulder and needed surgery. I’d have to miss the whole year.
Frank Furtado, a semi-retired trainer with the Sonics, gave me a ride from the hospital that day. On the ride home, he convinced a 22-year-old kid with a lump in his throat that he wasn’t going to be a bust. He promised me I would be able to come back from this and have a career. Frank is a legend; he was there for me when I needed someone.