D COM­PANY Kevin Du­rant — su­per­star, mil­lion­aire, an­gel in­vestor and now am­bas­sador to In­dia

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Sam Abra­ham

Kevin Du­rant’s mak­ing a trip to In­dia this sum­mer. And that means two things - the 6-foot-9 War­rior has be­come big enough to be recog­nised in far off In­dia, and that the NBA wants In­dia to recog­nise its next big global star (sort of like Kobe Bryant and China).

To an­nounce this, he du­ti­fully sat down to talk to the ‘In­dian del­e­ga­tion’ present in New Or­leans, host­ing the All-Star Game this week­end, and those di­alling in from back home. It’s “pretty rare” to get him in a room, an Amer­i­can col­league said on en­quiry. (But Du­rant will def­i­nitely do hours of talk­ing to strangers over the three days). Of course, it was re­layed in ad­vance that he did not want to talk about Rus­sell West­brook and his for­mer team of eight sea­sons. Surely ev­ery­one can un­der­stand why, and there’s noth­ing ahead if that was all you wanted to read about. Mov­ing on, he’s com­ing to meet the 24 play­ers se­lected for the acad­emy in In­dia, and of course to go “go check out the Taj Mahal”.

The clos­est In­dia have come to the NBA is the D-League, where Sat­nam Singh, Pal­preet Singh play for af­fil­i­ate teams. They could get closer said KD. “If you’re from the D-League you’re more fa­mil­iar with the NBA game, more fa­mil­iar with what these teams want from you. You learn the sys­tem... that’s the way to make it to the NBA.”

The par­al­lel to Kobe Bryant’s fre­quent trips and pop­u­lar­ity is easy to see. “He re­ally liked go­ing over there (China) and re­ally en­joyed be­ing part of the cul­ture. I think that’s what peo­ple re­ally liked about Kobe. He wanted to learn about dif­fer­ent as­pects of life and how peo­ple ap­proach dif fer­ent dif­fer­ent things. I feel the same way.” It’d be nice for In­dia to learn how he ap­proaches bas­ket­ball. At times the su­per

star would de- AFP scend into a notepad - he did not bring it - in front of him while an­swer­ing, or tak­ing ques­tions from the callers overseas. He, with­out con­scious vo­li­tion prob­a­bly, was doo­dling plays and strate­gies while an­swer­ing. I just might know his favourite play.

OH SO TECHY

In­dia’s bond with Sil­i­con Val­ley is very strong, but prob­a­bly not as strong as Du­rant’s. Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, he made $62.5 mil­lion last year (in­clud­ing his salary for the 2016-17 sea­son) and he’s in­vest­ing at least some of it in tech­nol­ogy star­tups. “It’s smart busi­ness and it’s kind of rare. One thing that has changed over the last year and a half is that I’ve formed my own com­pany - the Du­rant com­pany.” Mov­ing to Golden State has been good for him in more than one way.

MAR­KET, MAR­KET, MAR­KET

This week­end’s about show­cas­ing both tal­ent and the Sony SIX, SIX/HD & SONY ESPN/HD

NBA as a brand. The city’s been taken over - it’s ad­ver­tised on ev­ery­thing from high­rises to ev­ery other wall and pil­lar in the fa­mous French Quar­ter of New Or­leans City. And ev­ery­thing is recorded and beamed out on some medium. The mid-sea­son break that com­bines all of the league’s com­mer­cial in­ter­ests with the fan’s fan­tasy mo­ment, and the event has evolved from just the ‘All-Star Game’ way back in 1951 to an ex­hi­bi­tion of a lot of league things. So many peo­ple de­scend­ing on the city should have an­noyed the cit­i­zens ex­cept they were pre­pared for the mad­ness of Mardi Gras in any case (“That time of the year when us lo­cals wish we could take off,” our driver said as he shut­tled us to the ho­tel from the air­port).

Club cricket’s still just tak­ing off as an in­ter­na­tional event, and the IPL al­ready pro­vides us with 20 overs of mix-and-match teams. But it’ll be fun to see the best 22 crick­eters in the world in a one-night-only con­test, right?

Kev­inDu­rant—

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