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Kevin Durant To Pinoy Hoops Fans: 'Accomplish Something Bigger Than Yourself'
FHM gets up close and personal with the two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP
by John Paulo Aguilera | Jul 9, 2018
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The second day of the Kevin Durant Manila Tour 2018 was relatively low-key compared to the well-attended slew of festive activities yesterday.

Monday's agenda was more intimate, as members of the media were given the chance to interview Durant and the designer of the Nike KD line, Leo Chang. Promoting the Golden State Warriors star forward's latest signature shoe, the 11s, was one of their orders of business in the Philippine leg of his tour.

Photo by Mark Jesalva

The setting allowed for a deeper conversation with KD, who discussed a wide range of topics—from the influential people who helped him succeed, to his off-court advocacies and basketball legacy, not to mention the Pinoys' genuine love for the game:

As a proven winner (two-time champion, one-time MVP, nine-time All-Star), who inspires you to rise, grind, and shine in the NBA?

I'm just inspired daily by these people who, no matter what field they're in, get up, grind, and go to work every single day, trying to do something bigger than themselves. I'm also inspired by hip-hop artists in particular—music really does something to me. I'm really inspired by the creative place people are in. It makes me better and want to do the same thing.

How do the people around you create a positive impact on your path to greatness?

I have people who are important to me, and we kind of sharpen each other up every single day. Good men and women who understand me and what life is about. We have great conversations, which makes me a better player on the court and a better man when I'm off it.

Despite being unstoppable on the hardwood, what is one aspect of your game that you can still improve on?

I feel I could get better at every part of my game, if I constantly think and love the game, as well as figure out different ways to be effective. Once I get physically back into the game, it will be easier now that my mind is into it. I'm just trying to focus on every part of my game and try to be as well-rounded as possible.

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Photo by Mark Jesalva

We remember you being cold-blooded in the last two NBA Finals. Were you this competitive as a kid?

Yes, I was always fueled by people telling me I can't do stuff, and that sparked my competitive fire. My brothers and cousins told me I couldn't do anything, and I think that's what pushed me to be well-rounded in whatever I do. I just wanted to beat them, and I guess that's what got me started. 

What is it like helping the typhoon victims in Oklahoma, sending four Bay Area kids to college, and doin other charitable work?

I love that we get such a huge opportunity to give back to the less fortunate, to inspire people in times of tragedy just by your presence, to be there for a city and a group of people that really need it. It was so fulfilling—one of the best moments in my career. It's just an amazing life we live.

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You're currently on your 11th signature sneaker with Nike. How does it feel to be one of the biggest endorsers of such a major brand?

Well, I've been wearing Nike since I was 15, and feeling that connection with the brand, just like any other person who only rocks Nike. Ever since I was a kid, having my own shoe has been a goal of mine, which is now a dream come true. You have to really work your way from the bottom to the top, and the pinnacle is where we are right now. I always felt like a part of Nike even as a seven-year-old when I was just starting to play, so I'm grateful I'm here today.

Describe your relationship with Nike Footwear Designer and KD line collaborator Leo Chang.

It's been pretty cool. Leo is always in his creative space, thinking about ways to push the brand forward. Aside from exchanging text messages and emails, we get a chance to sit down, and do some stuff throughout the year, for the KD 12 to be even better. Now, we're working through this whole process and I can't wait. Every year, it's just coming full circle.

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How did the two of you hit it off and establish a creative understanding?

We can relate to each other and understand how hard it is to do what we do—the pressure to be really great every day. Leo has that same drive. We're innovative, so I trust him, he trusts me, and over time, we just built some nice rapport and it's been growing ever since. Through some great shoes, you can see what our relationship is like, so hopefully we keep going forward and doing great things.

Photo by Mark Jesalva

What do you want your basketball legacy to be when all is said and done?

I just want people to respect how I approach the game, how I approach life in general, how I approach people. I think my work ethic is going to speak for itself, so whoever was around me for the longest will understand what I put into the game, what I put into my teammates, and just life in general. Hopefully I impact people in a positive way every day.

In your two days here in the Philippines, what is something about local hoops that caught your attention the most?

Well, it's the energy. You could just feel the love when you get in front of the fans, and their genuine love for the game, which is rare now, to be honest, within basketball culture. That deep love for the game makes you feel great and optimistic about how it's pushing forward. To come here and see it being a huge sport, this is all that we envision as basketball players, for everybody to play. It's nice to see so much enthusiasm for the game.

What are your final words for your Filipino fans?

Every time you get up every day, believe that you can accomplish something bigger than yourself, and just go for it. There's going to be days when you don't want to—put those in the past and stick with the journey. It's going to be a rough one, but worth it at the end. No matter where your route is or destination is, once you put everything into it, your mind and heart, you'll get everything you need. It's pretty simple after that.

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Photo by Mark Jesalva

 

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