Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant had a culture shock of sorts when he came to India recently in July to visit the NBA Academy in the country and conduct coaching sessions.
“It was a unique experience. I went with no expectation, no view on what it’s supposed to be like,” he said, in an interview to The Athletic. “I usually go to places where I at least have a view in my head. India, I’m thinking I’m going to be around palaces and royalty and gold – basically thought I was going to Dubai. Then when I landed there, I saw the culture and how they live and it was rough.”
The 28-year-old, who was the hero behind the Warriors’ run to the title this year, added, “It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience. You see cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road, a million cars and no traffic violations. Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That s*** was really, really dope to me.”
On his visit, Durant staged a training session with 3,459 Indian children that the NBA said would go into the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest basketball lesson ever held. The Durant foundation also donated two basketball courts in the country while the star visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, an experience which he also talked about.
“As I was driving up to the Taj Mahal, like I said, I thought that this would be holy ground, super protected, very very clean. And as I’m driving up, it’s like, s***, this used to remind me of some neighborhoods I would ride through as a kid,” he stated. “Mud in the middle of the street, houses were not finished but there were people living in them. No doors. No windows. The cows in the street, stray dogs and then, boom, Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s like holy s***, this was built 500 years ago and everyone comes here. It’s just an eye-opener.”
Back in the NBA, the champion was also in the news for taking a nearly $10-million pay cut in his new contract with the Warriors to keep the title-winning team together. But Durant summed it up simply, “It’s my money. It’s my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it.”.