THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANTNovember 07, 2014
Watching Kevin Durant play basketball is an experience. He can bring viewers through an entire range of emotion in just two hours. Happiness, excitement, awe, heartbreak, hope are the most common feelings that Durant inspires. And he does inspire.
At 6’11”, Durant is an anomaly. Nearly every other basketball player his size doesn’t dribble or take a jumpshot from further than 15 feet. But Durant has no limits on the court.
Durant, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation sports agency, teamed up with HBO Sports to produce THE OFFSEASON: KEVIN DURANT, a one-hour special detailing Durant’s summer.
The show starts off the day after Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the NBA playoffs on May 31. Durant, with his entourage of childhood and college friends, then packs up and moves to Beverly Hills, to work on his game for the summer.
KEVIN DURANT (HBO)
This isn’t Durant’s first time getting into show business. He starred in THUNDERSTRUCK, a 2012 movie about a high school kid who stole Durant’s ability by touching the same basketball as Durant. James Belushi and Brandon T. Jackson costarred in that. The movie made less than $600,000.
He’s part of a long line of athletes getting into the entertainment business. These stars are trying to grow their brand, which means get in front of as many faces as possible. It’s rarely about the money for Durant, or fellow NBA superstars LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. They want exposure, during their playing careers. The more people that see them on the silver screen or in primetime, the better. That’s another signature shoe or jersey sold.
Russell Westbrook, Unknown, KEVIN DURANT (HBO)
James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, just filmed TRAINWRECK, due out in Summer 2015. Directed by Judd Apatow, featuring a stacked cast, James won’t even be the biggest box office draw for the movie, which also stars (among others) Daniel Radcliffe, Bill Hader, Method Man, WWE superstar John Cena and Amy Schumer. Anthony, who plays for the New York Knicks, recently had a cameo in “Sons of Anarchy.”
Arian Foster, a well-established NFL running back, played a college kid hoping to get picked in DRAFT DAY, earlier in 2014. Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner were in that movie.
This also isn’t Durant’s first time documenting his summer. Back in 2011, Durant had a web series called “Kevin Durant’s 35th Hour.” Four comprehensive episodes were posted on YouTube.
“35th Hour” is very similar to THE OFFSEASON. Durant’s accessible. He lets his guard down. He had the same entourage in 2011. Other NBA stars popped up in “35th Hour,” just like they do in THE OFFSEASON.
But YouTube isn’t HBO. THE OFFSEASON’s production level is top-notch. Filming and editing pace the documentary beautifully. Durant is extending himself to a larger audience, which is smart. Jay-Z, who has worked with HBO before, represents Durant and was an executive producer on THE OFFSEASON.
And for all the exposure, the only part of the documentary that the public didn’t have access to was Durant’s reaction to being spurned by another player that decided not to sign with Duran’t team as a free agent. The rest of the show felt familiar.
It wasn’t Durant’s fault that the show felt thin. HBO tried to jam an entire summer into a single hour. And what’s worse is that they picked Durant, one of the most heavily covered athletes in America. Each part of the show, from training to building his business brand, to quitting Team USA, to resigning with Nike, was already covered in-depth while they happening in real time. Durant was extremely open when the cameras were on him, too. He established a “nice guy” reputation a long time ago, so when he started cursing and sounding a like a real 26-year-old, absent of his political correctness, it was a big change of pace. But it wasn’t enough to make up for the surface-documenting. HBO didn’t show anything new.
One of the reasons why HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” the annual five-week series following an NFL team during training camp, always works is because the show explores the unexplored. We all know Durant’s story. If the media doesn’t spend an entire day on everything KD does, KD will put something on Twitter or Instagram to let his fans know what’s he feeling.
This type of documentary would work with Derrick Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP who’s dealt with career-altering injuries for the past two years. He actively avoids the media. He doesn’t have an Instagram. Legions of fans are dedicated to him.
But Durant is to be commended for never being afraid to open up.
It’s one of the reasons he’s so supremely popular.
Durant’s interactions with his youngest fans is incredible to watch, and something that’s always refreshing to see. And we’ve seen it a lot. The audience just needs to something they’ve never seen before.
Max Resetar is a new contributor to On Demand Weekly. He is currently a junior at Eugene Lang College from Queens, New York. He has written for SLAM Magazine.