What makes an NBA superstar stand the test of time is rarely just their work on the court. It’s how they handle their years off the court that truly makes them indelible. Michael Jordan went all-in on baseball in between NBA stints. Kobe Bryant reacted to the twilight of his career and subsequent lessened playing time by writing and producing an Academy Award-winning short film. Kevin Durant, with a year of rehab on his hands, proved that he has the fire in him to be this kind of superstar.
The mixed blessing of Kevin Durant’s Achilles recovery
Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury was a devastating moment for the NBA as a whole. In an instant, it took arguably the greatest active player out for a year. It made the Toronto Raptors’ hard-earned victory feel somewhat lesser than it should have. The controversial handling of Durant’s calf injury by the Golden State Warriors cast a pall over the organization that it hasn’t quite shaken off.
What was bad for 2019 has so far been oddly positive for the league in 2020. Durant took the turning point to leave the Warriors and instantly turn the long-suffering Brooklyn Nets — already becoming an underrated success with savvy draft picks and trades — into the biggest story in sports.
Alongside other big moves like Kawhi Leonard joining the Clippers, the so-called Superteam Era came to a swift end. Even with Nets fans suffering through seeing Durant and now Kyrie Irving exclusively on the sideline, hope is in the air in Brooklyn.
As for Durant himself, he wasn’t one to sit back and heal. He made an uncharacteristic effort to appear in-person with the press, albeit as pointed and defiant as ever. Most importantly, he increased his effort and time with his umbrella business for off-court activities, Thirty 5 Ventures.
How Durant leveraged his time away from the court into bolstering Thirty 5 Ventures
Thirty 5 Ventures have their hands in many different spheres. Durant’s downtime has led to some major new work in film and television, in particular.
Durant produces and appears on The Boardroom, an ESPN+ show where the business side of the NBA is exposed in a series of captivating conversations.
The true nitty-gritty of hammering out lucrative endorsement deals is far more entertaining than it sounds. And the show presents a side of the normally reserved Durant that fans haven’t had access to before.
The extra time in 2020 also created space for Durant to put a long-awaited passion project right at the center of his plate: a documentary about his hometown.
Why Durant’s upcoming documentary is more than just a hometown tribute
Durant’s upcoming documentary isn’t just an excuse to reflect on growing up in a place that’s still close to his heart. It’s about why Prince George’s County is one of the best places on earth for young basketball players to develop, with Durant cast as just one of many.
Filmmaker Jimmy Jenkins writes and directs the Durant production, In The Water, which releases on an unspecified date later this year. Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo came up through PGC, too. So did Len Bias, the University of Maryland’s legend of the ’80’s. Plus, Philadelphia 76ers 2017 first-round draft pick Markelle Fultz. And Jeff Green. Quinn Cook, too. Oh, and Ty Lawson. The list goes on.
Clearly, this won’t be a documentary about Durant’s upbringing, so much as the story of the basketball infrastructure that so consistently produces high-level players.
How does one county in Maryland identify, improve, and unleash players like Kevin Durant on the unsuspecting NBA? Keep an eye out for In The Water on Showtime. Because despite the title, it’s likely much more complex than there being something special in the water there.