OKLAHOMA CITY — Two-time scoring champion Kevin Durant wants the NBA’s owners to listen up.
Set to be locked out by the league at day’s end, Durant pledged solidarity for the players’ union Thursday even if it means sacrificing the first few months of the season to get a new deal done.
“We’re going to stand up for what we have to do, no matter how long it’s going to take,” Durant told the Associated Press after the conclusion of his two-day youth basketball camp.
“No matter how long the lockout’s going to take, we’re going to stand up. We’re not going to give in.”
The league announced that it would lock out the players at 12:01 EDT Friday, saying in a statement from deputy commissioner Adam Silver that “the expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams.”
Durant acknowledged “it might have to take all the way up until maybe December or January” — meaning the start of the NBA season in October would be jeopardized — but the players are committed to getting a CBA they feel is fair.
“The way the CBA worked before is something we really liked. There’s no need to change it,” Durant told AP. “Things have been going very well for us, as far as the league, revenue and things like that are concerned. We want to stick with that pace, but of course the owners want to go a different way with it.
“We’re going to stick with it until we come out with a good deal.”
Durant, the Thunder’s representative to the players’ association, said he regretted that he hadn’t been able to stay active in the union’s work because of other offseason obligations, but veteran Nick Collison has been filling in for him and he’s also staying in the loop by email.
“We just want the owners to listen to us, man, and know that we’re out there playing for them and we always represent them in the right way,” Durant told AP.
“Hopefully, things get done.”
A last-ditch negotiating session ended after three hours Thursday with no new agreement. Durant said talks were “going really slow,” but expressed optimism that they would speed up in time to save the upcoming season.
“All we can do is continue to just keep praying that we get things done quickly and we just move on with what we have to do, and not let the fans suffer more than they have to as far as not watching us play,” Durant said. “I think as players we’re really hurting, too, if we can’t play basketball. It’s already hurting me that I can’t be able to talk to my coaches, GMs and the guys that work for the team.
“It’s going to be tough, but it’s something that we’ve got to try to work through and hopefully we stick together through the process.”
Durant led the league in scoring the last two seasons, getting selected as an All-Star both seasons while leading Oklahoma City to the playoffs. The Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals last season before being eliminated by eventual NBA champion Dallas.
Just one month later, he and his teammates won’t be allowed into the team’s practice facility and won’t be collecting paychecks.
“It may take some tough times for people to kind of pull together and get things done quicker and easier,” Durant said.
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