As Kevin Durant and the Thunder pulled off their sweatpants to take on the Heat in Game Two of the NBA Finals, a legendary high school coach in Maryland went to his living room.
Alone, he grabbed a seat and prepared to watch his old star take on LeBron James and company – in private.
“I watch it by myself so I can yell and nobody thinks I’m crazy,” Montrose Christian Academy coach Stu Vetter tells BuzzFeed.
For Vetter, who coached Durant and team (which included Greivis Vasquez among others) to a 25-2 record during the Thunder star’s senior year in high school, it’s a new kind of nervousness.
Unlike when he gets to sit (or stand) on the bench in the three high school national championships he’s won, having to watch this title series from the couch has created a new kind of knot in his stomach — like the feeling a father has when he wants his son to succeed, Vetter says.
But Durant’s work ethic endeared him to Vetter from the moment he arrived at the suburban Maryland school. Getting up as early as 5 a.m., Durant would take two trains to arrive at the gym by 6:30 to work out with Greivis Vasquez, who would go on to star for four years at Maryland and now plays on the Hornets.
Two hours later, they would head to class, then back for practice.
“We always have slogans at Montrose for different players. Kevin’s was ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’, and that’s kind of been his motto for some time,” Vetter says, pointing to his summer workouts with James during the lockout as an example.
Durant’s only fault in high school, when the team went 25-2 and Durant put up 20 points a game, was passing too much.
“If I had to do it all over again, I’d tell him to shoot more and be more aggressive on offense,” Vetter says.
Luckily for Vetter, he has a chance to let the star know that. Durant has made a practice of keeping in constant contact with the coaches who shaped him in the years leading up to the NBA. Despite spending only a year at the University of Texas, he’s a familiar presence on campus. And Vetter says he’s quick to text him back no matter how busy he gets.
The most touching this week, Vetter said, came after he sent his former player a text wishing him luck.
“Thanks coach,” Durant replied. “I want to win this one for Montrose.”