October 17, 2011
(Warning: Potential NSFW language in this video, if you find it intelligible.)
During last summer's World Championships in Turkey, Team USA leader Kevin Durant(notes) was typically held up as a sign of everything right with basketball. He's humble, kind, and really good at his job. His purity was overblown at times, but the positive assessments were most definitely earned. Durant is a rare person and someone who NBA fans should cherish.
However, we've learned in recent months that Durant is a more complicated figure than the glowing accounts usually suggest. While he is indeed more humble than the vast majority of professional basketball players, he also has more in common with them than many moralists would like to admit. He's as much a product of his environment and era as any other player in the league.
We've already discussed his tattoos on BDL, and now the Thunder star is trying his hand at rapping. In the video above, Durant raps with fellow artists Privaledge and C.L. McCoy (plus teammate Russell Westbrook(notes), who apparently just thought it'd be cool to hang out). It's hard to make out his rhymes, but at the very least his flow seems passable.
Durant has rapped before in a Nike ad, but that registered as playing around more than anything else. This performance suggests that he's pretty serious about the craft, if not exactly ready to hang up his sneakers. In the past, rap careers have been viewed as distractions from the task of becoming a better player. And while it may be tempting to claim that Durant is on the brink of seeing his career development stall, it's a silly argument with no evidence as of right now. Yes, Durant may be filming movies and rapping, but he's still a gym rat with a deep love for the sport. It would be far too reactionary to say that he has his priorities out of whack. These are just other things that he wants to do.
The lesson here isn't that we read Durant wrong in the past, but that sporting intricate tattoos and laying down tracks in a studio aren't signs of thuggery and laziness any more than wearing a baseball cap at a jaunty angle or speaking with a drawl. KD is still the same likable kid everyone fawned over last summer. Public perception just needs to catch up with him.