Kevin Durant's MVP acceptance speech captivated residents of this city and basketball fans everywhere for its raw -- and seemingly pure -- emotional honesty.
Choking back tears, Durant spoke directly to his teammates, coaches and family -- thanking them at length for their support and help in reaching such a height. But beyond the words of gratitude, there were words of reflection -- and those, in particular, resonated with a certain segment of his fans.
"Anybody going to watch the game tonight?" asked one 11th grader at Seeworth Academy to his fellow students.
With the Thunder having dropped game one of their 2nd round series against the L.A. Clippers, these students were feeling confident game two would bring a better result: "Blow-out," said one. "KD is going to put the work in," said another.
Kevin Durant knows any discussion about the Thunder's fortunes is likely to include him, but he hopes that people will see him as more than just a basketball player.
In thanking his mother for her sacrifices, Durant talked about the challenges they faced in suburban Washington, D.C., where Durant grew up -- moving frequently, eating infrequently, and turning to basketball as an escape.
Durant says, in the last year, he has "figured out what life is all about": being the best man he can be and using basketball as a platform to inspire others.
"He's someone to look up to, he really is," said Monica Garcia, an 11th grader at Seeworth.
Like anyone else who follows professional basketball, these students admire K-D for the incredible skills that have earned him four scoring titles and now his first Most Valuable Player.
"People say he's the next Michael Jordan," said 7th grader Dominic Graves.
But some of the students can also appreciate just how much he had to overcome -- not just the defensive double teams, but life's double, or even, triple teams -- to get where he is today.
"He went through all of that stuff," said 8th grader Jaquay Wisby, "but most people don't succeed in life, they just go halfway -- he succeeded."
There's a personal touch to the admiration Seeworth students feel for Durant. He and his teammates have actually visited the school on a couple of occasions, spreading the message to them individually that hard work pays off.
"Oh, I was so happy that day when I met him," said Charles Jones, an 11th grader. "Oh, it was a wonderful day."
The personal connection made Durant's MVP acceptance speech even more meaningful to the students.
"I feel I have a responsibility to go out there and be the best person I can be, first off," Durant explained, answering a question about his place in the community. "[I want to] learn from my mistakes, and get back up when I fall, and inspire."
Even before garnering the league's top individual honor, Durant was inspiring the students at Seeworth. They wrote him a song -- a song about positive aspirations they titled "Turn Up." They and, doubtless, scores of young people throughout Oklahoma and across the country, are taking his admonition to heart; they are giving their best, in honor of the league's best.
"It's awesome," said Mersed Rogers, an 8th grader, "because he can really change people...if he keeps trying his hardest and doing his best."
The kids, meanwhile, have some advice for Durant: they want him to play good defense and win. It is, after all, the playoffs.