In the summer of 2010, a 21-year-old Kevin Durant was tasked with leading the United States men’s national basketball team to its first FIBA World Championship in over a decade.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s budding star was just coming off his first playoff appearance — a first-round loss to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers.
But one of the players Durant became closest with on that World Championship team just happened to be Laker Lamar Odom, a player of similar build and skill.
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Their bond is one Durant fondly recalls as Odom fights for his life in a Las Vegas hospital after being found unconscious in a Nevada brothel earlier this week.
"It’s so sad," Durant told The Daily Oklahoman. "I couldn’t really sleep the last few days just thinking about him. I’ve still got faith everything will work out. It’s a tough situation, but as brothers in the NBA we have to rally around him and send our prayers up and support him no matter what, and just pray everything goes well."
When asked about what makes Odom special as a player and person, Durant reflected on his time with Odom at the FIBA World Championship.
"From Day 1, he had just come off winning the title, and he walked into the gym as the most humble guy there," Durant said. "He took me under his wing as a little brother. I just tried to learn a lot from him professional-wise. As a person (he) has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever been around."