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Suddenly can't stomach football

Kevin Durant so upset over Harden trade, he takes drastic measures: Inside his misery

Kevin Durant was enjoying one of those Saturday nights that a mega-millionaire pro athlete is supposed to bask in.

Hanging out on the Notre Dame sideline during the Fighting Irish's 30-13 wipeout of Oklahoma in Norman, soaking up the college football pageantry just days before his own NBA season opener, the 24-year-old must have felt life was awfully good. It doesn't get much better for a University of Texas guy than seeing the Sooners get dusted — and Durant's defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder seemed to have an even brighter sports future than Notre Dame.

Then . . . the trade hit.

 "I talked to Kevin last night and he's still in shock. He was at a football game when he found out and he said he had to stop watching the game, he was so upset." 

Durant heard that James Harden — the third pillar of the Thunder's ultra-talented foundation — was heading to the Houston Rockets to try and become a franchise star.

"I talked to Kevin last night and he's still in shock," Harden said Monday afternoon at his very public Rockets introduction. "He was at a football game when he found out and he said he had to stop watching the game, he was so upset."

Turning away from the game is pretty drastic. But not as drastically unexpected as Oklahoma City actually trading a 23-year-old Sixth Man of the Year according to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

"I didn't think they'd trade him," Morey said. "He's a great player already playing at an All-Star level and he's going to be a perennial All Star."

Houston's GM couldn't come up with another example of a player of Harden's caliber being traded at such a young age (the new Rocket go-to scorer is 23, actually a little younger than Jeremy Lin).

Whether you buy that or believe instead that the Thunder made a smart move for their own future considering that Durant and Russell Westbrook are their unquestioned best players, it's clear that Harden has jumped onto the "I Love Houston" bandwagon.

"It's one of the top five cities in the NBA," he said, shortly before putting on a new Houston Rockets hat. "The fans, the market, everything . . .

"It's just beautiful. Coming from Oklahoma City, this is much bigger."

The this included the presence of several dozen fans and almost everyone who works for the team in any capacity at Harden's Rockets introduction. The fans crowded around behind the TV cameras recording the press conference and more people watched by looking over two balconies from above.

More than one fan screamed out, "Fear the beard!" in reference to Harden's distinctive facial hair.

 "It's just beautiful. Coming from Oklahoma City, this is much bigger." 

But Morey let loose with the best line of the day when he cracked, "What year did he hit puberty? Is that what you're asking?" when a reporter quizzed Harden in all seriousness on when the beard thing started.

It was that kind of day for the Rockets, one of those days when everyone is having a good time, knowing that no one has to wait long to see Harden in his new No. 13 Rockets uniform (he'll be starting opening night Wednesday in Detroit against the Pistons).

Of course, things aren't so rosy in Oklahoma City at the moment — regardless of the wide standings gap to come between the championship-gunning Thunder and the rebuilding Rockets. When Durant is ignoring his football, you know he's not pleased.

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