Kevin Durant recently got back from running very successful basketball camps in India (nearly 3,500 children participated), but in a Q&A with The Athletic, Durant described his experience as an eye-opening one.
DURANT: ….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. 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.
Q: Was there a particular situation or person or thing that was eye-opening on the trip?
DURANT: Yeah. 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. 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.
Those comments did not go over well in some quarters, and Durant issued an apology.
Two things. First, it’s a Q&A where his answers were printed verbatim, so I’m not sure about the “out of context” idea.
Second, I believe Durant is genuine in that there was no ill intent on his part. He’s an American who travels a lot, including internationally, but always does so in a certain level of luxury and has “first world” experiences. India is not that, and that seemed to catch Durant off guard. This is good for Durant the person – every time we can step out of the bubble of our comfortable lives to experience how others live, work, and play, we grow as a human being. Kevin Durant will be better for his India experience.
And he will be back there. Basketball could catch on there as it has in the rest of the world.