Last week, I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the launch of Kevin Durant’s sixth signature shoe, the Nike KD VI. The shoe hit stores Wednesday.
But the two-day event included a tour of Durant’s hometown, Seat Pleasant, Md., and the D.C. area.
You can read my chronological account of that tour here.
There was a ton of information and insight that didn’t make it into the story. Here’s a rundown.
- Durant on why he fell in love with the game of baskebtall: “It’s real simple. I just liked to run up and down the court. That’s all I really wanted to do was run.”
- Durant on taking time off this summer: “I did it as soon as we lost in the second round this year for about two weeks and it felt good. Once I started working out, of course it took me a while to get going. But I’m back in the swing of things now and the time off was much needed.”
- Durant on whether he’ll ever get burned out: “Nah. I love basketball no matter what. I’m sure I’ll never get burnt out.”
- Durant on his tornado relief efforts: “I consider Oklahoma City my home. I live there the majority of the year. I meet so many people just from being around, and a lot of people I’ve met are from Moore, where the tornadoes hit the worst. And I just wanted to do something for them to get them back on their feet.”
- Durant on the tornado destruction: “Walking through that area was unbelievable. I’d never seen anything like it. People’s houses were gone. I seen a trailer in somebody’s living room. And everybody was smiling still, and everybody said they’re going to still be at the games next year supporting. Just to see that makes me feel a lot better that they’re getting through it with a smile because it;s tough. I don’t know how I would deal with it, but they are.”
- Durant on his decision to go with a low top shoe: “I wanted to try something new from what I was doing before. Everything I had was either mid or high cut. So I just wanted to go low and see how it worked.”
- Durant on what percentage of NBA players play in low tops: “Just from looking at guys, I want to say 50 percent of the guys wear low top shoes.”
- Durant on when the KD VII might be ready: “I’m sure it’s almost done, to be honest, the way these guys work. We always want to be ahead of schedule.”
- Durant on new stories he’d like to incorporate into future shoes: “I want to bring a story of me and my brother as kids. We would do everything together. We would catch the bus in the morning. He’d drop me off at school, make sure I was all right on the bus at school and he would go off to school. And he kind of took care of me when my mom was working all the time. So some way we’re going to figure something out and bring that to a shoe because it meant so much to me as a kid growing up and I really appreciate it now.”
- Durant on his favorite shoes as a kid: “My mom, we weren’t really big on going to Foot Locker because I had such a big foot. I wear an 18. I was wearing an 18 when I was about 14 or 15 so it was hard to find shoes. But I would say my favorite ones, I had some Tim Duncan Foamposites back in the day when he was with Nike.”
- Durant on if he grew up wanting to be a star or just play: “The one thing I really wanted to be was the best player in this (Seat Pleasant Activities Center) gym. That’s the first thing I was thinking about. But as time went on I realized I could be better and I could be an NBA player down the line.”
- Durant on being slow to embrace his special talents: “My mom, my brother, my godfather, everybody around me thought I could be pretty good and I could go to the NBA. I was the only one that was kind of holding back from it. I was one of those guys where it took a while for me to realize how good I was going to be.”
- Durant on new moves he’s working on this summer: “I’ve been working on the Magic Johnson running hook, the little flick hook this summer. It’s taking me a while to master it. If I had to shoot 20 of them I’m sure I’ll make four or five. But I’ve been working on it this summer and trying to add it to my game. Hopefully it works this year.”
- Our tour took us to Georgetown University, and John Thompson and his son, the current coach at Georgetown, John Thompson III took time to talk to us about Durant.
- John Thompson III on how Durant got away from the D.C. area and went all the way to Texas for college: “We had just got the job right when he was making his decision. So I’d like to think if I had got the job a little sooner we would have had the time to keep him at home. But it turned out great for him and it turns out we’ve been OK also.”
- John Thompson III said he first heard of Durant when Durant was in the eighth or ninth grade: “Something like that,” he said. “He’s been good a very long time.”
- John Thompson on when he first saw Durant play: “The first time I saw him I came in here (Georgetown’s practice gym), he was shooting, down there playing with some guys and I said ‘Who the hell is that?’ I saw him playing and I asked the same question that one of you asked, ‘Why the hell is he going to Texas?’”
- Thompson on Durant as a person: “You’re following a guy who is a very special person in Kevin…Don’t let anybody kid you. He’s a good man. He’s a very good man. Because he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And he’s been willing to do things off the ball when (the media) is not around. And that’s the thing that I find extremely impressive. He doesn’t just do things in front of a camera or to market and promote a shoe.”
- More from the elder Thompson on KD: “Regardless of how he has played or what he has done he’s always come back and played here during the summer down at Barry Farms or with the girls. That’s the thing that I love about him. It’s expensive to go to NBA games. So some kids don’t have an opportunity to get that close to other players. But because of the way Kevin is and because of how he circulates around the city when he comes home that’s always something that any coach admires, especially when you have a person like Kevin, who is a good person as well as a good player.”
- John Thompson III on whether his players look up to Durant: “I think that most players in the game today aspire to do what he is doing and has done. If you were to ask my guys do they look up to him they’re probably a little too…I don’t know that they’ll say that. But do they want to do what he has done and accomplish what he has accomplished, absolutely.”
- John Thompson on why he never coached in the NBA: “It was just a feeling that I had. I had opportunities to go to the pros, but I decided I wanted to be here and I enjoyed being here. So I stayed here. I came close to it at one time. But at that time I thought it was best for me to be here. It wasn’t anything in the pro game that made me want to go to the pro game. But I love the pro game.”
- John Thompson on who’s better, Pau or Marc Gasol: “Marc. Because he’s physical. I think Pau is good. But I think he’s more of a perimeter oriented player. But Marc doesn’t mind banging. He doesn’t mind touching people and showing affection.”
- John Thompson on why the D.C. area produces so much great basketball talent: “Poverty.”
- John Thompson III elaborating on D.C. area talent: “I also think that this area, there’s an inordinate amount of very good high school coaches. In a lot of big cities there’s the talent. But here there’s a lot of very good high school coaches. So the kids are getting pretty good coaching at a young age to go along with the talent, to go along with the drive, to go along with the desire.”
- John Thompson on which big man that came through Georgetown was the best: “That’s like asking me which one of my children is my best child. I don’t ever answer that question.”
- Thompson did say that of all of the big men that have gone through Georgetown no one improved from the time he stepped foot on campus to the time he left more than Roy Hibbert.