Thundering Up in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The wheels of the Thunder’s team plane touched down in New Orleans as dawn’s first light peaked across the bayou. Ever since that early morning arrival on Friday after a win Thursday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the Thunder All-Star contingent has kept on rolling.

The Thunder’s coaching staff, led by Head Coach Scott Brooks, along with All-Star Kevin Durant, Rising Stars challenge selection Steven Adams and Skills Competition participant Reggie Jackson will all represent Oklahoma City over the three-day weekend in the Crescent City.

Immediately after getting off the plane, Brooks made the first Thunder appearance of the weekend, joining ESPN’s Mike & Mike morning radio show. Brooks earned high marks from the co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic for Brooks’ willingness to join the program just six hours after finishing up a 107-103 victory two time zones away.

Later in the morning, after the Thunder players and coaches had a chance to get some well-deserved rest, Adams took part in a Rising Stars practice, where he will be playing on former NBA player Chris Webber’s squad. After a brief media session, Adams and Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamian stopped by an NBA Cares PLAY/KaBoom event at KIPP Leadership Academy. The Thunder duo interacted with children, helped paint a mural at the school and assisted in building a playground.

Next up was Reggie Jackson, who participated in the most intensive community event of the day. At Joseph S. Clark High School, the Thunder’s third year point guard helped clear brush and beautify an external part of the school that needed an image upgrade. The final Thunder stop on Friday afternoon was in the Algiers Riverview Neighborhood, where Durant, Brooks and the rest of the Thunder’s coaching staff all helped restore the Algiers Folk Art Zone & Blues Museum, a distinct house and outdoor art exhibit in the neighborhood.

Durant worked with fellow All-Star Blake Griffin to use some fine motor skills while painting in a detailed mural of musicians along the building’s front wall. Around the back of the house, Brooks and his staff were busy painting the entire exterior of the building, in addition to building a picket fence by hand. As Brooks drilled posts into place, Durant did the same on the other end of the horseshoe shaped fence. By the time the event was over and it was time to head out, the house had made significant progress.

“This is what it is for, just giving back to the community,” Durant said. “All of us players get a chance to play in front of them, so it’s always good to give back. It’s an exciting time of the year being at the All-Star Weekend. Having so many staff from the NBA and players here, it’s good to have us all here to help out.”

Tonight, Adams will play in the Rising Stars Challenge, as Kalamian will be coaching in the game. On Saturday, Jackson will take part in the Skills Competition and Durant will participate in the Shooting Stars contest before he represents the Thunder in Sunday night’s All-Star Game.

-Nick Gallo