Kevin Durant likened his return to the basketball court at Team USA’s minicamp to “Christmas” and “heaven” in his comeback from a season-ending injury.
The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and 2014 MVP took part in the light drills on the first day of training at USA’s camp at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Durant played in only 27 games last season after needing three surgeries to repair a right foot fracture.
He hasn’t played in any 5-on-5 games yet and won’t take part in USA’s intrasquad scrimmage today at the Thomas & Mack Center, but the 26-year-old is just happy to be on the floor again.
“You remember Christmas as a kid? It’s like that,” Durant said.
Joining Durant at the camp are 33 other players who are vying for one of the 12 spots on the 2016 Olympics squad.
The turnout features some of the very best from across the league as managing director Jerry Colangelo has made attendance mandatory for those wanting to play in Rio de Janeiro.
Rubbing elbows with others stars is something Durant relishes as he works his way back.
“Iron sharpens iron,” he said. “I’d be a fool if I didn’t get with any of these guys. If I wanted to be secretive about workouts, or be by myself, I’d be stupid to do that. To bounce ideas off of Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge, Draymond Green, Steph Curry, that’s like heaven, like being in basketball heaven with these guys.”
Durant could be heading for his final season in Oklahoma City with the forward set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Thunder missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009 without Durant in the lineup last season, falling just short of the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
After being sidelined with the first major injury of his career, Durant feels he’s learned from his time away from basketball and his team-mates.
“You take it for granted a little bit,” he said. “I missed the routine the most. Getting up, going to practice, getting my shots up before practice, I missed all that part.
“Hanging out with the guys in the locker room before the game, I think that’s what I missed the most. You can take that type of stuff for granted. I think I did and I learned my lesson.”
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