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King James: Brothers with the best

The Sydney Kings are in the middle of the toughest season they have faced in years - with only three wins, a different coach and recurring injuries to star import Josh Childress - the club had to call on their second short-term injury replacement with NBA credentials. Enter Damion James. With two NBL games under his belt, James will be trying to help the Kings through their tough road trip in Round 11 by drawing on lessons from one of his closest friends - NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The 201 cm (6’7”) small forward was not only the college teammate of the 2014 NBA MVP at the University of Texas, they were members of the same recruiting class. In 2006/07, Durant’s only year at Texas, the two were part of a team that had four freshman starters (Durant, James, D.J. Augustin and Justin Mason) and went 25-10, eventually losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. “One of my best friends and someone who’s like a brother to me is Kevin Durant,” James said during a 2013 interview. “We play together and ball out a lot, so I’ve got great practice.” James added that off-season workouts with the six-time All-Star and four-time NBA scoring champion have helped to develop his game, particularly at the defensive end. “Kevin’s one of the best scorers there is. He just gets me ready, because if I can guard him, I’m ready to guard anybody,” James said. Durant has described James as his “brother for life.”  After averaging 18 and 10 as a senior at Texas – and setting the all-time Big-12 record for career rebounds – James was selected 24th overall by Atlanta in the 2010 NBA Draft and then immediately traded to the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, his highly-promising NBA career has been plagued by bad luck and injuries ever since. In a cruel twist of fate, the athletic forward broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during his first career start, six weeks into his rookie campaign.  It was the same injury his good buddy Durant would suffer the season after claiming the 2013/14 MVP Award. James recovered and appeared to be once again on the rise to begin his second NBA season. He opened 2011/12 with a 14-rebound haul in a win over Washington and played well as a starter over New Jersey’s first six games. The Nets were struggling but James, himself, was flying. He’d scored in double-digits on consecutive nights. Just as his good friend would do three years down the track, James re-injured his troublesome foot – a setback that resulted in season-ending surgery to replace the screw that had been inserted the previous year. Enter Kevin Durant.
  Follow my brother @konjames10   A photo posted by Kevin Durant (@easymoneysniper) on
With his ‘brother for life’ down on his luck and crippled by frustration, Durant inspired James to keep pushing to achieve his dream. “He just told me, ‘you will be back, you are a first-round talent and that’s something you can’t look over’. I just kept faith and he kept my focus.” James’ efforts in the NBA D-League over the next two years earned him a late-season call-up to the San Antonio Spurs in April 2014. He took his chances and stuck with the Spurs for the remainder of their championship season, earning himself some priceless bling and invaluable experience. “Learning from the Spurs – one of the best organisations ever in all of sports – was great,” James would reflect. “Going there to play was a great opportunity for me and my family.” James’ basketball journey has since taken him to Washington D.C., back to the D-League in Texas, across the Pacific to the Philippines, north to France and now down under to Australia. He’s still pushing for his NBA dream and a short stint with Sydney is part of that process. He’ll help the Kings, don’t doubt that for a second. After all, as KD told him during his time of need, James is a first-round talent and that’s something you can’t look over. Brothers for life.
  Blood couldn't make us closer #kingofNAC #RocBoy   A photo posted by Kevin Durant (@easymoneysniper) on
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