It wasn't exactly Beatlemania, but Kevin Durant's one and only game at the Rocky Mountain Revue brought out the biggest crowd of the summer and caused a bit of a mob scene before the game even started resulting in one fan being taken away in handcuffs.
Durant's play on the court in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Salt Lake Community College against the Utah Jazz, meanwhile, was solid if not spectacular. The consensus college player of the year out of Texas, who was the No. 2 overall pick in last month's draft by the Seattle Sonics, finished with a game-high 29 points. But he was only 7-for-21 from the field and had just one rebound with no assists in the 102-88 Jazz victory on Tuesday night.
"It's getting better, but I'm not where I want to be," said Durant of his NBA experience so far.
An incident prior to the game got a bit out of hand, as a couple dozen or so fans met the Sonics' team bus outside the gym seeking autographs. As security guards tried to push the fans back, one of the guards got punched by a fan wearing a Sonics shirt. That fan was later led away in cuffs.
"I don't even know what to think about that," said Durant. "I had my headphones on, so I didn't hear anything (at the time). But I hear he hit (the security guard) in the face. I felt kinda bad that he wanted to get an autograph from me and the guard stopped him. But I hope he is all right."
While the crowds had been good for the previous Jazz games at the Revue, Tuesday marked the first sellout. Extra fans showed up to get a glimpse of the first freshman in history to win the Wooden and Naismith awards as the best player in college basketball.
"It was a great crowd. It felt just like college," said Durant, who doubted the crowd was there to see him. "We played the Jazz, the hometown team, and I've heard they are real good about supporting their team. It was fun playing in front of them."
Durant played in four games in the Las Vegas summer league for the Sonics before the team arrived with the Revue already in progress. He will now leave the team thus missing the two remaining Sonics games in the Revue to join the USA Basketball tryouts.
Durant scored Seattle's first four points against the Jazz, making two of his first three shots from the field. But he then went 1-for-10 from the field the remainder of the first half and that one make was a desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock that he banked home. He was able to finish the game with 29 points thanks in large part to his ability to get to the foul line and knock his shots down there. He made 14 of his 15 free throws for the game.
"I'm still getting good shots, but I just can't knock them down," Durant said. "I just need to keep being aggressive and shots will start to fall."
The slender, 6-9 forward went up against Utah's first-round pick Morris Almond much of the night. Durant won the scoring battle, but Almond's team won the game. Almond also had a better shooting night from the field, making 7-of-14 attempts en route to 18 points.
"(Almond) is a great player," said Durant. "I really respect his game."
Durant averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in his only season with the Longhorns. He's finding things tougher so far during the NBA summer leagues especially on the boards, as he's averaged just two per game and had only one Tuesday.
"Everybody is good here," said Durant. "It's a big difference (between the NBA and college). I'm still getting used to it."
Durant, who won't turn 19 until September, is still getting used to all the attention, too. He seems genuinely upset that he gets so much more media attention than his teammates including No. 5 overall draft pick Jeff Green out of Georgetown.
"I really don't like (all the attention) too much," said Durant. "This is a team sport. I don't think it should be all on me. It would be fun for my teammates to get a lot of recognition too."
But the fact remains that none of his teammates are considered locks to become future superstars.And It's not everyday that a player comes along that would make a fan risk jail time for punching a security guard just to get an autograph.