What does one of the best basketball players on the planet look to do when he gets a little bored and restless due to an NBA lockout? Michael Jordan probably would have played some golf, or perhaps dabbled in some professional baseball.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant sought out a flag football game.
Durant found an offer from George Overbey, a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity at Oklahoma State. The Sigma Nu's had a intramural playoff game set for 10 p.m. in Stillwater.
I first got wind of all of this around 9:45 p.m., when an OStateIllustrated.com subscriber posted on The Corral that Durant was going to be playing on the OSU intramural fields in a few minutes. My 10 year-old son was laying on the couch about to head to bed after a night of Trick-or-Treating. On a hunch, I told him to go find his Durant jersey and put some shoes on.
Arriving at the intramural fields right at 10 o'clock, no 6-foot-9 guys were on the fields, but a suspiciously large group of people were gathered along one sideline. We did some exploring and talked to a couple of Sigma Nu's, who said that Durant was reportedly on his way. We went back to the truck to wait a few minutes before heading back home to get the boy to bed. Right at 10:15, several nice cars rolled into the parking lot - including a pimped out 1990's era minivan. My son headed that direction and promptly came back with a signed Kevin Durant OKC Thunder jersey on his back.
A timeout was called to give Durant a moment to warm-up. Rather than entering the game at receiver as most expected, Durant played quarterback with his "KD 35" Sigma Nu jersey that was whipped up quickly by a team member that works at a local sporting goods store. He threw one incompletion, and then was picked-off on his second pass attempt.
Durant rebounded quickly though, picking off a pass himself just a few plays later.
Word was obviously spreading fast among the OSU community that Durant was actually playing, because the crowd was a couple hundred strong by 10:30. More college kids were arriving by the minute, too. Even OSU athletes weren't immune to the draw of Durant - OSU footballers Caleb Lavey, Colton Chelf and Clint Chelf were right behind us in the growing crowd.
The last public appearance Durant made in Stillwater was another doozy. A true freshman in his lone season at Texas, Durant and Cowboy forward Mario Boggan each threw in 37 points as the two schools dueled in a triple-overtime thrillerClick My son and I were very likely the only people in the crowd either under the age of 18 or over 24. Given that it was a school night, we headed home about 10:35. The crowd continued to grow after our departure and estimates had the final number in the 500-1,000 range. OSU PD escorted Durant and his party out of the parking lot when it was time to head back to OKC. Shortly after departing, Durant tweeted a shout-out to OSU and Overbey.Here to view this Link. in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys ultimately won that game by a 105-103 score, that was truly "one for the ages."
Durant has quickly become a massive fan favorite in the state of Oklahoma in his time with the Thunder. There is little doubt that that fandom became even stronger on the Oklahoma State campus after Durant showed up on Halloween night to play a little flag football. It's certainly something my son or I will not soon forget.
The event took any even crazier turn, as Miami Heat superstar LeBron James jumped in and challenged Durant to a flag football game.
@kdtrey5: Set it up! My team ready RT @KingJames: @KDTrey5 Team KD35 vs Team King James do I hear?
Might Durant be referring to the Sigma Nu's of Oklahoma State as his team that's ready? If so, might he be looking for a home-field advantage over James -who caused a stir earlier this year by asking about NFL free agency on Twitter - by returning to Stillwater for a showdown with King James?
This afternoon, Durant tweeted to OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden, indicating he's not done with flag football in Stillwater.
While Durant's status among the NBA's elite players can be debated, I don't think there is any debate when it comes to who the most down-to-earth mega-star in pro sports is after Durant's Halloween treat.