Why Kevin Durant’s Former Jersey Number Was So Important to Him

LeBron James may hold the NBA’s unofficial Greatest Player in the World title, but superstar Kevin Durant isn’t far behind him. Over the course of twelves seasons in the league, Durant has established himself as one of the most versatile scorers ever. As recently as last September, sports website Bleacher Report ranked Durant as the No. 15 NBA player of all time.

Since his lone college season at the University of Texas, Durant has worn a No. 35 jersey. That long tradition is now over since he’s with the Brooklyn Nets. Durant is sporting a No. 7 jersey. Let’s take a look back over Durant’s basketball career so far, investigate his long allegiance to No. 35, and explain why he decided to change it.

Durant’s NBA career in a nutshell

The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Durant with the second pick of the 2007 NBA Draft. Even as a rookie, Durant proved himself an elite-level starter, averaging over 20 points per game. During the next offseason, the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, changing their name to the Thunder. Durant continued to improve, bumping his scoring average up to 25.3 in his second season.

Durant spent a total of nine seasons with the SuperSonics/Thunder. In that time, the team was a perennial playoff contender. In the 2011-2012 season, the Thunder made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Dissatisfied with his inability to add a championship to his resume, Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016.

Durant spent three seasons in Golden State, winning back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. He took home Finals MVP honors in both of those series. Despite allegations of poor locker room chemistry, the Warriors were heavily favored to win the championship again in 2019. However, Durant suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury in Game 5 of the Finals, and the Warriors fell to the Toronto Raptors in six games.

Durant’s relationship to 35

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Throughout all of the years outlined above, Durant wore his iconic No. 35 jersey. Soon after announcing his decision to join the Nets, however, Durant also revealed that he would be switching to No. 7. In the process, Durant also revealed a bit more about why 35 had been so special to him.

In a post released on Instagram and Twitter, Duran said that “35 was chosen in honor of someone very near and dear to me. I will always honor him and honor the number 35.” Insiders soon pointed out that the number specifically paid homage to Charles Craig, Durant’s former AAU coach, who was shot and killed at the age of 35.

The reason for switching numbers

Durant’s longstanding relationship with No. 35 shows just how loyal and committed an individual he is. Yet knowing that story only made it harder for some fans to understand why he would change his number. Usually when an incoming player changes their jersey number, it is in deference to somebody on the team who already wears that number.

That explanation doesn’t really play in Durant’s case, however. For one thing, nobody on the Nets team at the time already had dibs on No. 35. And at any rate, if a player as famous as Durant decides that he wants to wear a certain number, chances are he’ll end up getting his wish. In his initial announcement, Durant didn’t offer any explanation for his decision, let alone the significance of No. 7.

A few months later, Durant finally revealed the significance of No. 7. He said he chose the number because, in the Bible, No. 7 signifies completion. That would seem to indicate that Durant sees his move to Brooklyn as the final phase of his career. Nets fans, meanwhile, are hoping the 31-year-old Durant isn’t planning to retire anytime in the next few years.