February 17, 2017

KD2Desi: Kevin Durant announces plans to visit India this summer

Seasons will change. Time will pass. An NBA champion will be crowned and an eager nation will open its doors to more basketball progress. And this summer, Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors will become the greatest basketball player to step foot on Indian soil.

A former MVP and one of the biggest global stars in basketball, Durant officially made the announcement on his social media accounts on Thursday night (Friday morning in India). NBA India released further details about his trip, which will centre around his plans to visit the soon-to-be-launched NBA Academy India in the Delhi-NCR region and Durant's own ambitions to see the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Durant is currently in New Orleans for the 2017 All-Star Weekend where he will make his eighth successive appearance at the 66th NBA All-Star Game on February 19.

“I will be the first NBA player going to the Academy," Durant said, "I’m super excited about it, to grow the game of basketball to a new level. I’m so excited about the grassroots programme. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a great time."

In November, the NBA announced its plans to launch the ambitious NBA Academy India to help nurture elite young basketball talents around the country. Recently, they named the prospects chosen for the first session of this Academy after a nationwide talent hunt.

Durant had encouraging words for the selected few in an interview on Firstpost: "I think it is just the fundamentals of dribbling, shooting, passing that you know and that crossovers no matter where you are as a basketball player. So when you get those fundamentals of the game right, that's where you start at."

This is Earth-shattering news right here. With respect to all the NBA legends of the past and present who have visited India (I have a running list here!) Kevin Durant is most-likely the best-ever. That list has included Hall-of-famers like Dominique Wilkins, Robert Parish, Dikembe Mutombo, and George Gervin, and more recent stars like Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, Isaiah Thomas, and Shawn Marion. Only Kevin Garnett, who made a trip to India with adidas ten years ago, is of equal status to Durant right now; but I believe that Durant in 2017 is even better than KG was in 2006.

Still in his prime at 28, Durant is the NBA's 2014 MVP, a six-time All NBA Player, eight-time All Star, and four-time scoring leader. Unless you were in an isolated vipassana for the past eight months, you probably know that Durant shocked the world by leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, forming one of the NBA's most-fearsome units alongside two-time MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The shift in scenery hardly effected Durant's game: he's averaging 25.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this season while enjoying one of the most efficient shooting seasons ever. Plus, he has a couple Olympics gold medals to his name, too. With his Warriors currently holding the best record in the NBA, he is certain to be vying for an NBA Championship this June, which would add extra masala to his India trip later in the summer.

As ESPN reported, Durant is aware of Kobe Bryant's relationship with China and his popularity among the Chinese people. Durant wants to have a similar influence over fans in India.

"I think what people really appreciated about Kobe was that he really wanted to learn about different aspects of life and how people approach different things," Durant said in interview to ESPN India. "I feel the same way. I want to feel the culture when I go to India. I want to see what it's about. I want to get to touch the people and check the pulse -- not only the game, but life in general."

Finally, he also said that he has had the Taj Mahal on his "bucket list" for a long time.

Only trust the Government-approved guides, KD. Watch out where you leave your Nikes. And most importantly, Stay hydrated. Those North Indian summers are no joke.

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