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Kevin Durant, TJ Ford Forming NBA Longhorn Network

Tucked away in Brian Curtis' meditation on Kevin Durant's connection to Texas at Grantland is this interesting nugget:

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That spirit has carried over to the NBA, where Ford, Durant, and other Longhorns have formed a kind of Texas alumni network to rival the North Carolina network. "We tried to form that bond, try to keep guys intact with the program," Ford says. "We want to create what other programs around the country have."

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As Curtis points out, Durant, even though he was talented enough to play in the NBA directly out of high school, still gets a lot out of being a Texas Ex (even without the diploma).

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It gives him a place to come home to and a network to plug in to, where, regardless of what happens in his NBA career, he's loved merely for making it on such a big stage. LeBron James may be the best player in the world, but there isn't a place where he's beloved as much as Carmelo Anthony is at Syracuse or Durant is in Austin.

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** Russell Springmann, the assistant coach who first discovered Durant, even named his first born "Durant"! **

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Of course, it doesn't hurt Rick Barnes in recruiting when one of the NBA's greatest players is a walking billboard for his program.

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Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.