Kevin Durant texts Leo Chang at midnight sometimes. This a fairly normal part of a relationship between signature athlete and sneaker designer—Nike’s Eric Avar has surely been awakened by messages from Kobe Bryant countless times—but Durant and Chang have a unique bond nonetheless. Chang, who joined the Nike Basketball team at the same time as Durant, has designed every one of Durant’s signature shoes. Even Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan, as close as they became, didn’t work together from the beginning.

They’re comfortable with each other, and it’s readily apparent as they discuss their latest joint project, the KD8. There has been growth on both ends, as Durant has won scoring titles and the MVP award, while Chang has risen to become design director of Nike Basketball. And there have been experiences shared—Chang, on his first visit to Durant’s hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md., ran Hunt’s Hill, one of KD’s workout spots.