The two-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP has been curating movies like Stephon Marbury’s A Kid From Coney Island and Basketball County: In the Water; a film that highlights hoops in Prince George’s County, Maryland through his Thirty Five Ventures platform.
Both films dig into the root of both regions in a pre-social media era of grassroots basketball in both regions.
Always calculated, KD is quite thoughtful in his approach to what he creates and how he answers questions.
I got a crash course in that during his Oklahoma City Thunder days in 2014.
During my Q&A with him after winning the NBA’s regular season MVP award in 2014, Durant credited Michael Jordan for impacting culture and also credited Karl Malone for advice the NBA Hall of Famer gave him during NBA All Star Weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Check out our dialogue below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You’re an MVP. Your name is cemented with the greats: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. J, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, David Robinson and Michael Jordan. You grew up watching most of these guys—particularly Michael Jordan. As a basketball player, how important is his legacy to you?
Kevin Durant: Michael Jordan changed the culture of basketball on and off the court. His legacy is much more than just what he’s done with championships. I hope to be able to drive change like he did both on and off the court and follow in the footsteps he laid out.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What’s some good advice you’ve gotten recently?
Kevin Durant: I had the chance to talk with Karl Malone over all-star weekend—someone I looked up to as a kid. He had some great advice for me in how he approached the game every single day. He was one of the most coachable guys and played the game the right way every time he stepped onto the court. He was the ultimate team player and it’s been great getting to know him. My hope is that I can be like Karl was to me to kids today and be a role model for them to learn how to be strong and kind on and off the court.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: How have you grown in your career?
Kevin Durant: Experience is the best teaching. I’ve been through just about everything in 25 years. I’m one of those guys who has to go through something in order for me to learn and get better from it. I want to go through a certain situation for myself before I ask anyone for anything just to get a feel for it. Through strong and kind, I’m sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way and hope that others will experience the strength in kindness I’ve seen in my life.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: But do you still have fun playing basketball?
Kevin Durant: I don’t ever want to lose that joy of the game. You are always going to get the criticism and people tell you what you should do. That comes with everything, but I choose to not look at it. I just go out, do what I’m supposed to do and have fun.
Durant detailed his respect for Michael Jordan and detailed his interaction with Malone in 2014.
Malone was a terror on the basketball court. At 6’9 and 249 pounds, he’s the NBA’s second all-time scorer.
Malone was also a rebounding machine. While the post office is closed on Sunday, the Mailman still delivered on Sunday’s.
One of the top four men in the game, Malone had an array of offensive moves. The Louisiana Tech product could face you up, catch the ball on the inside, post and hit a consistent jumper.
Guided by late Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, Malone averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while paying alongside teammate, John Stockton who were a top NBA duo. “Stockton and Malone are right there,” legendary broadcaster, Bob Costas told me.
“They’re one of the great duos in NBA history. Not because they were effective but because they were teammates for so long. In the case of Malone, you’re talking about a guy who’s in the discussion you want to back historically Bob Pettit, certainly more recently Tim Duncan, Karl Malone… 3 or 4 guys that are going to be talked about as the greatest power forwards in basketball history, maybe I left somebody out but they’d be right there in the discussion and Stockton I believe still holds the record for assists and steals, if he doesn’t anymore at one time he did hold the all-time record for steals and assists. That speaks for itself.”