Currently among the best players in the NBA, we sat down with Kevin Durant while he was in the German capital to find out more about his interest in video games, candy and more.
At just 26 years old, Kevin Durant has already had a phenomenal NBA career. Playing exclusively for the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics), KD has made a name for himself as one of the next generation’s most versatile Small Forwards. Unlike Kobe or LeBron, however, Durant has made no real enemies either on the court or in the stands. Fans and players alike adore him, so much in fact that Foot Locker ran a series of commercials back in 2013 calling him the “nicest guy in the NBA.” The accolades didn’t stop there, however, as he scored the cover for NBA 2K15, a game he himself enjoys (obsessively).
Best of all, even if you don’t follow the NBA, you’re familiar with his sneakers. He’s now on the eighth edition and with hundreds of colorways to choose from, it’s no surprise we’ve seen them end up on the streets of the world’s fashion capitals. Eager to know more about what KD is like off the court, we sat down with him on a brisk Berlin morning. Check it out below.
What are you up to out here in Europe?
Just trying to touch the people man. Showing them the new stuff we have coming out, letting them know how I came up and what brought me around the world, and hopefully that inspires kids to do the same thing. It’s the first time I’ve been in Berlin; I’ve been to Paris and Madrid before but I was really excited about coming here so I’m glad we ended the trip here.
What was it that made you want to come here?
I’ve just never been here…I’ve been to all the major cities that have a lot of Nike doors in Europe but Berlin is… I’m always excited to see new things and experience new things, and I’m happy I’m here.
I imagine you travel a lot for both work and pleasure. Can you remember some of the best meals you’ve had? Wine, too? I heard you’re big into that.
Wow! You knew that? I’m down for anything, man. As far as culture is concerned, I was only used to one thing my whole life, so I can’t say I have a favorite meal outside of things we have in American, but I’m getting used to different things and trying different things and experiencing new stuff. Give me a few years and I’ll answer that question a little better.
Regarding wine, do you get into this whole French versus Californian wine versus German versus Italian thing?
No, I’m just getting into wine so I’m just trying to build my portfolio, as you would say. But I’m a rare wine drinker, it’s just something that I do in my spare time.
What about video games?
As I get a little older, I’m starting to put the controller down a bit, but during the season I’m sure I’ll pick it back up.
I think I’m the opposite. The older I get, the more I play.
This summer I haven’t played a lot because I’ve been moving around. During the season though, that’s all I do…
Between games you mean?
Yeah, because we get a lot of off time at home. So there are times when I spend all day in the house. There are times when we’re in Oklahoma for a two-week stretch and we’ve got games every other day so I’m at home a lot. I leave to go to practice at eight in the morning and I come back at one and I have nothing else to do for the rest of the day, so I’ll take a nap and play games.
Just sports games or others as well?
Sports games, mostly. I play Grand Theft Auto online, NBA 2K…
Do you use a headset?
Yeah, I talk to people all across the world and most of the time they don’t know it’s me.
Do you ever tell them?
No, never! I want to just keep it like that – it’s fun that way… (laughs)
Do you remember how you originally got into video games?
Yeah, I had a SEGA. I had a SEGA first – actually I had an SNES!
Did you play NBA Jam?
That was everybody’s game at that time!
It still is…
That was the thing back then before all this high-tech stuff.
It’s such a primitive game but it works so well.
Yeah, it’s legendary.
Did you play NBA Street, too?
Yep. You taking it back man. I remember those days…
There hasn’t been one of those sarcastic NBA games in a while…
No, there hasn’t. Everybody is too serious now!
It’s all about the realistic games now.
I would definitely play NBA Street again, that was fun.
And what about sneakers? You’re on your 8th now. Do you have a favorite silhouette and colorway?
Let me think…Maybe the first ones I had; these McDonald’s All-American colorway. I think it was patent leather yellow and the inside was white. Do you know the one’s I’m talking about? It had my number…because my KD1’s have my name on the inside and this one had my number three, which I wore in high school. Probably one of my favorites is also the KD4; that was a groundbreaker for me. The “Aunt Pearl” is really sacred to me and I look forward to that release every year. A lot of people really look forward to it as well. We have a lot of different stories within our line that are authentic to me and that I really believe in, and I want to show people who I am.
How involved are you in the design process?
I’m pretty involved. Leo [Chang] and I do a lot of talking and bouncing ideas off of each other. I trust him with everything; he is great at what he does so I never want to limit him or take away from his creative process. I just try and add to it and put a little bit of my flare into it and go from there.
The “Aunt Pearl” has become one of the most collectable from the range. How do you go about picking the colorways every year?
They are always looking for more stories from me, like one of my favorite Christmas Day stories or Easter or Sour Patch Kids or peanut butter and jelly; like stuff that I did as a kid or I’ve been through, I give those guys my stories and they come to life within the footwear. To know that I have that type of input and to know that they really respect how I came up and what I’ve done to get to this point means a lot to me. They can just easily put out a shoe and tell me this is what you’re supposed to wear and this is you right here. But they really want to get deeper into the athlete and show their story, so I can appreciate that.
Oh man, Sour Patch were my favorite as a kid.
Man, you and I are here right now.
Are you a candy guy, too, like Lamar Odom?
Not any more. I used to be – wow! Everyday, all day…
Video games and candy.
I called my house “The Dorm Room.”
How about Roc Nation? Are you friends with Jay Z?
Yeah man, I respect Jay Z. I mean I don’t talk to him everyday but I respect him and we talk and he respects me and he’s helped me out a lot.
How did that come about? Were you guys friendly before?
No, I mean just mutual friends and respect.
I see you’re wearing the new Tech Fleece pack. How do you feel about the new stuff?
I’ve always been a big fan of the tech stuff that we put out and they decided to let me be part of the campaign, which I was really grateful for and I was excited to do the photoshoot. They showed me pictures of different stores all over the world with my face in Tech Fleece. It shows a different side to me because I’m used to being in basketball gear, but to have something that I would definitely wear to a game or out…it’s cool to see my photo along with other great Nike athletes.
You’re probably used to it by now but is it ever weird to go around the world and see your face everywhere?
Yes! It’s still weird. I mean I wanted to be in the NBA, I pictured being in the NBA and I didn’t have any other goals or dreams. I knew I would eventually get there if I continued to work hard. I mean everything worked out but I never pictured this, you know? Anybody that says they picture this, it’s a lie because it’s always pure as a kid, you know it’s a game and all you want to do is play basketball and make it to the NBA. I never knew about all this stuff that comes with it so I can’t say that I was prepared for it – I’m just going with the punches along the way and I’m enjoying every single moment.
So with the MVP under your belt where do you go from here?
More and more…more and more…Two is better than one, three is better than two, and four is better than three. I’m just going to keep striving for it and push myself and challenge myself. I’m never satisfied and until I can’t play no more I’m going to keep striving for the greatest and I’ve got to live with the results at the end of it.
So that’s your motivation at the end of the day? To keep getting better and to keep pushing?
Yeah and to see where I can go. I never want to stop. I always try and figure out if I got this good, I wonder how much better I can get afterwards. I worked extremely hard to get here and mentally I think about the game on a different level to how I did before, so that’s pushing me to work even harder. Trying to find new ways to get better…
Has the game itself evolved since you joined the league?
No doubt! Yes, there are more versatile players. There’s smaller guys; small ball has really picked up a lot in our league. Whereas, before it was traditionally two big men that clogged up the paint but there is a lot more space now and you can really see these skilled players show what they have. It’s definitely a favorite for my position and my type of player because I have the ball in my hands, I’m shifty, I can move, I can handle the ball and I can shoot. I can do different things so I’m not just limited to being a tall post guy, so it’s more to my advantage in guys like me.
- Photography: Ryan Hursh for Highsnobiety.com