We were on hand this Sunday at Harlem’s House of Hoops, directly across from the Apollo Theater, where Kevin Durant was set to debut his new Nike KD 5 shoe. Durant answered questions, gave out prizes, and played an impromptu game of NBA 2K13. We have video of the appearance after the jump.
DJ Webstar played a mix of Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z as fans stood in a packed store awaiting the arrival of Durant. The master of ceremony, Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg, opened things up by talking with a Nike Ekin representative (former Dime fam Christian Grant-Fields) about the Ekin program (Nike spelled backwards). After that, it was the main event as Durant himself had arrived.
Durant walked in to Thunderous applause. Rosenberg started by asking Durant about his participation in the Olympic games, what he’s focused on accomplishing this season, his surprise at so much success so early in his career, and his goals moving forward – the primary ones being an NBA championship and individually, an MVP award. After that, since we were in Harlem, Rosenberg brought up Durant’s 66-point night at Rucker Park during the lockout summer in 2011. The performance was cheered mightily as Durant was effusive about his love for basketball, NYC, and how special it is to play in Madison Square Garden, which he described as “the best arena in the NBA.” After ten minutes of answering questions, Nike’s Basketball Design Director, Leo Chang, came on stage.
Leo came up with the “KD V” style and form-fitting technology in conjunction with Durant’s own aesthetic preferences, and Chang talked about Durant’s input for the shoes feel and look of the sneaker. The soles of the shoe have a special significance for Durant since they trace his life from a childhood spent in Washington, D.C. to his one year of college ball at the University of Texas before being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics to begin his NBA odyssey, and finally, his ascension to basketball royalty in Oklahoma City. There are some other personalized details from Durant’s life on the sole of the new shoes, but you’ll have to purchase a pair to see them firsthand.
It wasn’t just sneaker heads and media members at the appearance, though. Teenagers from the Polo Grounds Community Center got a firsthand look at the Q&A from front row seats. One 17-year-old, Calvin, reached under his chair to find a prize attached to his seat: he would get to play Durant in NBA 2K13. Durant admitted to playing the favorite video game among NBA players as a part of every pregame ritual. Calvin and Durant were even in their matchup after the allotted two minutes, but Durant agreed to an overtime session, where he narrowly avoided getting beat by Calvin. But Calvin, as a reward for his participation, was given a signed basketball as a prize.
After that it was a raffle for the ubiquitous backpack Durant always has near him and two tickets to see the Oklahoma City Thunder battle the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night. The two winners of the raffle came on stage beaming like they’d just won the lottery. Also in the House of Hoops was the “DMV” colorway of the KD 5. The tribute pair commemorate’s Durant’s hometown, and they’re set to launch December 5. During his interview, Durant said his favorite colorway was probably going to be the pair he rocks during the Thunder’s Finals rematch against the Miami Heat happening this Christmas. So be sure to check out his kicks when you’re watching with your family over the holidays.
Durant was humble and pleasant throughout the appearance, as is his style, and after things wrapped up, he shook hands and smiled as security escorted him back to his waiting bus. There are very few superstars on the level of Durant that show such class in person, and it’s not surprising he inspires such rabid fans even in a city (New York) that is not his own.
What do you think of the new sneakers?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.