It's a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Compton to be exact. Kevin Durant just arrived at the Drew League to talk to some of the kids in attendance at the Youth Camp. As his 6'10" frame walks through the double doors of the King Drew Magnet High School, the young players' eyes light up and they can hardly contain themselves. One kid yells out “MVP” in his best grown man voice. Another, who can’t really contain his cool, screams out “Kevin Durant” in a high-pitched squeal that shows how excited he is to see the star player for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After spending his time refereeing a game, signing a few autographs, and teaching a captive audience of kids how to do his patented step back jumper, he headed to an in-store event in Santa Monica where he would get to surprise a bunch of other fans looking to buy his latest shoe—the Nike KD7. On the ride over, we had the opportunity to speak with Kevin about how he's spending his summer, his thoughts on NBA free agency, and his latest project with Nike.
Lets start with NBA free agency. How do you think the changes that have happened in the league will affect you and OKC?
I don’t think it really affects us, unless we sign a guy in free agency. We went after a few guys. We actually got one, Anthony Morrow, to come aboard and join the family. It really doesn’t affect us what other guys are doing, we just try to focus on us and how we can get better.
It has been a crazy free agency period. Guys moving. Guys going back home. It’s been cool watching it as a fan.
It’s the summer and we're here in Los Angeles, what's your summer routine like?
I just try to get it in as much as I can. Whether is it lifting weights or pool workouts, or getting in the gym twice a day. I just try to stay on top of my game and get ready for USA basketball which is at the end of the summer. And get ready for the season. It’s been a fun summer.
Speaking of USA Basketball, how do you feel about the team?
I'm excited. I can’t wait. I was actually thinking about it last night as I was going to sleep, about how fun it was going to be to play with so many great players and how much I am going to learn while I'm there. I'm looking forward to it.
You recently launched the Nike KD7 back in your home town. How important to you is it to go home for events like that?
It’s all about where you come from, people that support you, and the streets that you walked. That's what I am all about. Everybody that knows me, knows that that's what I am all about. It’s perfect. As a kid growing up, I walked those streets and I am a part of that community so I want to give back. I don’t play there a lot, so a lot of people don’t get to see me. I figure with something so big, this is the perfect opportunity to do something there.
Everybody that knows me, knows that that's what I am all about.
One of the stories about the new sneaker is the return of the strap. Was that your decision?
It was one of those things where they were like, “Hey, want to bring the strap back?” I thought, why not? I came up with the idea, and they will tell me if they don’t like it, and I can tell them if I don’t like something. Our relationship has grown so much. We brought it back, and I thought it was perfect placement, perfect look for the shoe, and gave it a brand new look. It’s looking better and it's growing each and every year, and this year the strap adds another dimension to it.
So far, what would you say is your favorite colorway of the KD 7? We’ve seen 5 colorway so far, are there any others down the line that you are really looking forward to?
Yeah, the BHMs [Black History Month] are crazy. The Aunt Pearls. They are simple. Real simple, but you are going to really know what they are. It’s a little different this year. I’ll say that. I actually came up with a color. I am not sure if it will come out or not, but I am sure people will see it. There are a lot of different colorways that we came up with that I’m excited about. This is probably my best shoe, so I am looking forward to seeing what people think about them.
I like the WBFs. The all-red ones. Those are my favorite ones. You should see the text I get from everyone. Every NBA Player, all my friends. They're all like, “I need those red ones.” I’m like man, I don’t even have them yet. But yeah, it's my favorite one. Red is my favorite color and that solid look is just perfect.
Have you designed any colorways of your own before?
I have, but none of them have made it to retail or anything like that. They have always been generic. But this shoe, I came up with something, a different fabric, different everything. I’m waiting for the sample to come back. We’ll see how it looks. I am looking forward to it. See where my fashion sense takes me. I am excited. Just to get my own shoe. It was fun.
You often write on your shoes during the games. What are some of the things that you write?
It’s a lot of things. From bible verses to words of encouragement to myself when I look down during the game. I had a couple of friends that passed away this year, so I’ll write their names on my shoe. It’s one of those things, when I am at the free-throw line and I bend over and look down and you see what’s on your shoes, you realize, alright. I wrote on there, “Have Fun." I wrote that on my shoe last year cause I was at a point in the game where I was frustrated and I looked down and it relaxed me.
Some of those things, I don’t know, you happen to write them, and then you look down and see them during the game and you feel better afterwards. I’m glad I get the chance to do that.
I like to play in the same shoe for months, but those guys don’t like me to do that.
Performance wise, what is your favorite aspect of the KD 7?
I like how light it is. It feels like the shoe is already broken in. They feel good fresh out the box. I like to play in the same shoe for months, but those guys don’t like me to do that. The made the shoe so it feels like I’ve been playing in them for a while. It feels so comfortable.
OK. So you like your shoes to be worn in?
Yeah. I don’t like my shoes to feel stiff. This shoe is so light and so flexible. It’s perfect.
I know you grew up in the Seat Pleasant Rec Center. How important are places like that to kids?
That molded me. You know they say it take a village to raise a kid, and it really does. My mom was at work all the time. My grandma, she couldn’t keep up with two boys. It was really important for me because it was a place for me to go out and be a kid, but also a place to help accountable. We knew we couldn’t just go into the Rec Center and do whatever we wanted. You learned right from wrong. It was one of those things where we had so many kids around us and built so many relationships that have lasted for a lifetime. And you parents could feel comfortable with you being away from them. It definitely raised me. I was 7 years old in the Rec Center, so I have relationships with people that I met 20 years ago. I have those relationships to this day because of the Rec Center. So yeah, I think it is important for kids to get out and experience that.