MINNEAPOLIS — From his courtside seat at Tuesday’s Minnesota Lynx exhibition contest, Kevin Durant hardly carried himself like an enthused philanthropist.
With a balled-up fist supporting his chin, the Oklahoma City Thunder star hardly glanced up at the Target Center video board when his name was announced over the public address system.
Thoughts of the city he now claims surely swirled somewhere behind Durant’s nonchalant expression.
Through his family foundation, Durant pledged Tuesday to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts in Moore, Okla., just outside of Oklahoma City. At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed when a tornado swept through the area on Monday afternoon.
“It was devastating, man,” said Durant, who was in Minneapolis to watch longtime friend and Lynx guard Monica Wright play in a preseason game against the Connecticut Sun. “A natural disaster’s something that you can’t control, and to have it hit so close to home — I call Oklahoma City my home now — it’s tough to go through.
“But we’re a city that comes together, and we’ll bounce back from all this.”
The Durant Family Foundation’s allocated funds are meant to match other donations from around the country and encourage more, Durant said.
“Just, God told me to do something to help these families out,” said the four-time NBA All-Star. “I go through Moore all the time.”
Monday’s tornado, classified as at least EF4 (166 to 200 mph) by the National Weather Service, claimed the lives of seven at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore. At least 237 people were injured.
Maligned by the loss of point guard Russell Westbrook to injury, the Thunder fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in five games in the Western Conference semifinals — an even graver setback now in the mind of the Oklahoma City superstar.
“Basketball events and sporting events bring everybody together and take your mind off it for a few hours,” said Durant, who plans to return to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and visit victims still hospitalized due to the storm. “Some part of me’s wishing I could’ve played better for my team to stay in the playoffs.
“It’s tough right now, but the sun’s gonna shine soon.”
On Monday, Durant sent a message to his 4.1 million Twitter followers with Red Cross donation information.
Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for $10 donation to help tornado victims in #OKC#okwx