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Tribute Day: #35 Kevin Durant

At halftime of tonight's basketball game against Texas Tech, the University of Texas will retire the #35 jersey of Kevin Durant. Before the official ceremony tonight, we'll be honoring KD in our own way here at BON, because... well, because we were really, really big fans of the kid.

I'm starting the party: first, with a timeline of his UT career as tracked at this website -- from his commitment to play for Rick Barnes to his difficult decision to leave Austin after just one season. Then, after the jump, I republish my take on Kevin Durant's Top 10 games in Austin.


February 9, 2006 -- Our first mention of the most talented basketball player ever to play at UT includes, appropriately, a reference to Vince Young.

February 23, 2006 -- Durant and future teammate DJ Augustin are named McDonald's All-Americans.

March 30, 2006 -- We get our first extended look at Durant when he plays in the McDonald's All-American game; Wiggins is blown away.

June 29, 2006 -- Our first ever YouTube posting of Durant.

July 3, 2006 -- It's only after I got my hands on some video of Durant's ridiculous performance leading Montrose Christian against Oak Hill Academy that I began to appreciate what kind of freakish talent is headed down to Austin.

November 1, 2006 -- AW and I get our first look at KD in person at the Lenoir-Rhyne scrimmage.

November 11, 2006 -- Durant secures his first collegiate double-double with a 21 point, 13 rebound effort against Chicago State.

November 17, 2006 -- Durant loses his first collegiate game when Texas falls to Michigan State in the Garden.

December 21, 2006 -- Through 10 games, Durant is averaging 21 points and 9.5 rebounds.

January 6, 2007 -- Durant makes his Big 12 debut... and drops 37-16 on Colorado in leading Texas to a road win.

January 9, 2007 -- Just fourteen games in, I've seen enough: Durant is the best player to ever play basketball in Austin.

January 17, 2007 -- Durant puts up 37 and 12 against Oklahoma State in a heartbreaking, triple-overtime loss in Stillwater.

January 27, 2007 -- In his sixth conference game, Durant drops his fourth 30+ effort as Texas beats Baylor at the Drum.

February 24, 2007 -- Durant goes for 32 and 10 in Norman as it becomes clear he's the B12 POY and, increasingly likely, the Natinoal POY.

February 27, 2007 -- Durant and Acie Law have their epic shodown in Austin with the Big 12's top spot on the line. Durant and Texas prevail, winning their sixth straight game.

March 3, 2007 -- Texas falls at Kansas, but perhaps only because Durant tweaked his ankle near halftime. His first-half performance remains one of the most unbelievable halves of basketball I've ever seen from one player.

March 12, 2007 -- Durant plays well but runs out of gas against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament final.

March 16, 2007 -- Durant scores 27 in the Longhorns' first-round win over New Mexico.

March 18, 2007 -- Texas has no answer inside for USC and Kevin Durant plays his last game as a Longhorn.

March 20, 2007 -- BONizens start making pledges if KD will stay for one more year.

March 22, 2007 -- Durant wins National Player of the Year.

April 9, 2007 -- It is confirmed: Durant will turn pro. I weep, but stand behind his decision as the right one.


Originally published March 20, 2007.

Below are the Top 10 Games of the Kevin Durant era. There were a lot of unbelievably great games to choose from, including at least a half dozen performances not included on this list that would be a career day for the best player on most other teams. KD was that good, that often, at Texas.

10. St. John's (Coaches vs Cancer Invitational - Madison Square Garden)
29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 5-6 3PFG

Kevin's second night on basketball's most famous basketball court was a stunning performance, and the first time Texas fans knew this kid was really special. He hit two NBA three pointers that had spectators gawking at what they were watching. Texas won 77-76.

9. Kansas State (Austin)
32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks

At this point in the season, Kevin had already proven his freakish scoring abilities, but he put on a show in Austin on this Saturday afternoon. After a so-so first half, Kevin came out roaring in the second half by scoring five straight Texas baskets, the last on a monstrous dunk. Then, after carelessly turning the ball over to the Wildcats, a frustrated Durant swatted three straight layup attempts by Kansas State, refusing to concede points off of his mistake. It was as dominant a five minute stretch of basketball as I've ever seen.

8. Colorado (Boulder)
37 points, 16 rebounds, 5-7 3PFG

Kevin Durant: meet Big 12. Big 12: Kevin Durant. In his first ever conference game, Durant lit up the Buffalos for a career high 37 points, officially announcing to the league that he was -the- force to be reckoned with. I was driving my girlfriend to the San Antonio airport and listening to the game on the radio. Play by play man Craig Way started running out of superlatives to use on Kevin midway through the second half, at which point he just started looking up records that Kevin could shatter.

7. Texas A&M (Austin)
30 points, 16 rebounds, 4-6 3PFG

Kevin's monstrous night was overshadowed a little bit by the otherworldly late game heroics of Acie Law, but up until Law tied the game with a miracle three, it was all Durant. The Longhorns picked up their best win of the season in Austin behind a majestic performance from KD, who was feeling it from the outside, working incredibly hard on defense, and willing his teammates to victory. His three point shot with 23 seconds left in regulation looked like the proverbial dagger and would have been the lead on SportsCenter had Law not hit an even bigger shot.

6. Kansas (Lawrence)
32 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks

We're all left to wonder what might have been had Kevin not twisted his ankle in the second half of Texas' trip to Lawrence. Durant put up the single best half of basketball I've ever seen - a 25 point performance that stunned 16,000 Jayhawk fans in attendance. Durant would return from his ankle sprain to limp through the final eight minutes of the game, but he was clearly troubled by the injury and never got back in a good rhythm.

5. Texas A&M (College Station)
28 points, 15 rebounds, 4-8 3PFG, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals

The Aggies pulled away from a gassed Texas team late, but Durant willed the Longhorns into a lead halfway through the second period. He hit three pointers, he defended the lane, he made Dickie V use adjectives even he'd never used before. NBA scouts who watch tape of this game will find it impossible not to covet Kevin Durant.

4. Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
37 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals

Another game in which Durant's incredible performance was overshadowed slightly by the late game heroics of another standout player on the opposition. Texas lost this triple overtime thriller to Oklahoma State when Keith Boggans made an improbable three point basket with 2 seconds left on the clock, capping a 37 point, 20 rebound performance of his own. Despite Boggans unbelievable night, Durant was the best player on the floor once again, pushing himself and his teammates to the brink of a great road upset. (Oklahoma State was still playing well, at this point.) Durant scored 7 points in the first overtime period, 5 in the second overtime, and 3 in the final extra period, including the go ahead dunk before Boggans' huge shot.

3. Baylor (Big 12 Quarterfinals)
29 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks

Texas trailed Baylor by 20 points in this game, an outcome Durant simply could not, and would not, accept. He came out in the second half with as much energy, focus, and determination as I've ever seen from a college athlete, positively willing Texas to a comeback victory. He scored at a ridiculous rate, he led a nasty, full court press that suffocated Baylor's guards, and he provided leadership that you only see from the rarest of champions. Think about how Rudy Gay is perceived. Now think about the polar opposite. That was Kevin Durant.

2. Texas Tech (Lubbock)
37 points, 23 rebounds, 3 steals, 5-9 three pointers

This may have been Kevin's most beautiful all-around performance of the season, as he was scoring at will on the Red Raiders in every possible way. Step back three pointers. Driving dunks. Fadeaway 15 footers. Texas Tech simply had no answer for Durant, and he absolutely took over the game. There were points when Kevin would call for the ball, take it, and you just sort of thought to yourself, "I wonder how he'll score this time?" And then he'd do something different. It was a stunning performance.

1. Kansas (Big 12 championship)
37 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 6 blocks

Durant ran out of energy by the overtime period, but he was an unstoppable force through all of regulation, hitting clutch shots, playing tremendous defense, and pushing his teammates to the brink of a Big 12 championship. By the end, it was probably the best performance in Big 12 tournament history.