The Legend of Cecilio Guante
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Dear Mom: Sorry to Break This to You…

So…ummm…mom…I didn’t know how to break this to you. This venue seems about as good as any. Yes, mother, that’s Kevin Durant. Those are his tattoos. Oh, and one last thing, it doesn’t change anything.

So, where am I going with all this? Let me see, because as I compose this I’m not exactly sure. Maybe that will make for more honest writing. The facts are these. My mom and I have a pretty tight thing going on. Sports is one of a plethora of reasons why.

She’s as big a fan as I am and now spends a disturbing amount of time each day listening to the idiots of our local NYC sports radio “leaders” debating inane topics ad nauseam. As mentioned here before, the woman purchases 3-4 papers/day and reads from the back to the front in most instances. The world could be on fire, but chances are she’s still catching up on what the Post said about Jose Reyes.

You can bet I don’t take for granted the fact that we can talk Mets baseball, Rex Ryan, Amare Stoudemire and the relative trials and tribulations of many a college team all year round. The woman knows her stuff. And, as all things are to some degree, many of her sports rooting “principles,” as one might call them, have trickled down to her son. We tend to root for underdogs. We value humility over hype. Hard work and a hint of shyness often trump the chest-thumpers and uniform poppers. And so and so forth.

This is all a long way of saying we’ve both always loved Kevin Durant. In addition to his skills, he was someone we felt compelled to follow and faun over. He was smooth but serious. Confident but not cocky. Scrawny yet scrappy. Durant was a gamer whose initially quiet and take-nothing-for-granted demeanor made us both strong supporters.

Plus, my mom loved how he had no tattoos. To her, this was just another notch on his belt…which was the first thing that came to mind when the above pic of KD starting circulating its way across the Interwebs. It did so to a myriad of fervent reactions on every which side that only shared a completely unjustifiable level of intensity. But every time I looked at the image, the same thing came to mind. Mom’s not going to like this.

There must have been half a dozen times during this year’s NBA playoffs that we were either catching pieces of a Thunder game over a weekend or recounting it over the phone. Multiple times she asked me, almost incredulously, “he really doesn’t have any tattoos like all of these other guys, huh?” In her own way, it was almost as if the clean arms meant clean off the court, too. It was also an inquiry always tinged with skepticism. I mean, damn near everybody was rocking some ink. Could he really have none?

Well, now I can tell you mom that KD certainly does have a tattoo. OK, several. He’s also gone out of his way to keep those gangly arms that pop out of his jersey clear and out of sight for you and the other fans to see. Does that make it “better?” Does it matter what the tattoos say or signify?

The Oklahoman‘s Daniel Mayberry maps it out for us in an article published yesterday:

Inscribed at the bottom of the right side of his stomach, Durant has “Walk by faith not by sight,” coming from 2 Corinthians 5:7. Immediately above that is a cross. Directly above the cross is another scripture, this one adopted from Proverbs 15:33, which reads, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”

On the left side of his stomach, Durant has an image of a house, which he once told me was the home he grew up in. In front of the house is a boy wearing a No. 35 jersey dribbling a basketball. And above his belly button, Durant, a suburban Washington, D.C. native, has the Washington Nationals‘ squiggly red “W’” insignia.

It’s all the same stuff about Durant that fans have come to love.

It’s just packaged differently.

You may not have ever wanted me to come home with ink, and I respected that wish. That said, there’s nothing that should take one’s respect for Durant away because he’s chosen to display it. As Mayberry says, it’s still the same Durant that fans have come to love. They’re just not used to seeing this package without the wrapping.

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