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Training the MVP

AUBURN | The NBA announced Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant as the league's MVP on Tuesday.
It's the first MVP of Durant's career.
The five-time All-Star emerged as the MVP favorite this season by averaging a career-high 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three-point range. Durant led the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, minutes played, points, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts and usage rate.
It was big news for Durant and Oklahoma City, but just as joyous and proud news for former Auburn basketball player Adam Harrington.
Harrington played for the Tigers from 2000-2002 after transferring from North Carolina State. Harrington entered the NBA Draft in 2002.
Harrington spent two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and one season with the Denver Nuggets before bouncing back and forth between overseas and the D-League until 2010.
So, what is Durant and Harrington's relationship and why is Tuesday's news significant to the former Auburn hoops star?
Harrington is Durant's personal trainer. The two started in November of 2013.
"I travel with him anywhere from two to three weeks a month. Workouts during the season, off the court mentoring, film breakdown and just doing life together. It's been great," Harrington told
Harrington played alongside Dirk Nowitzki with the Mavericks more than a decade ago. Since, he's been studying the unorthodox coaching techniques designed by Nowitzki's longtime mentor and shot teacher from back home, Holger Geschwindner.
The news of Harrington's occupation hasn't been wildly advertised because Harrington doesn't want it that way. But Harrington's impact has been felt and Durant's MVP season is the result.
It's been a unique experience for the Massachusetts native.
"On the road, we'll talk on the phone or we'll find a gym and go shoot," said Harrington. "I carry two basketballs with me at all times. We spend time talking about basketball, watching film -- it's been fun. We talk about life. I just want to encourage him. I told him don't mess up my resume, it's looking good for my first year."
In fact, since Harrington has started training Durant, he's received calls from other NBA stars looking for the same guidance. But Harrington is completely dedicated to Durant and plans to move his wife and two children - with a third on the way - to Oklahoma City this summer.
"A ton of potential opportunities opened up," said Harrington. "I don't even publicize that I'm Kevin's trainer, but word gets out. I'm completely dedicated to Kevin and it's been great."
Harrington's road to the present has been a windy one. From playing in the NBA, to playing in China, Spain, Israel, Poland, Croatia, Germany and France, his playing career reached it's finale in 2010 under tragic circumstances.
Harrington's sister, Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik, passed away to undiagnosed colon cancer in 2010. She was pregnant and the baby was lost. She was only 33-years-old. Harrington immediately traveled back to the United States from Poland when he received the life changing news.
"It all happened within 24 hours," he said. "I wanted to do whatever we can to raise money for the cause and it's grown."
His basketball career was an afterthought. Now, his goal was to raise money in support of cancer research and help kids struggling with cancer live a fulfilling life. He started the JEHH Memorial Fund and over the past four years, the foundation has raised over $200,000 in support of various organizations.
Harrington also dedicates time to his basketball training program, ASPIRE.
Whether it's training a NBA MVP, introducing young kids to the game of basketball, or raising money to improve the lives of cancer-stricken children, Harrington's mantra is the same.
"I want to impact as many people as I can," he said.
Twitter: @JHokanson