Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with John Leguizamo

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with the multihyphenate (writer-actor, producer-director, and on and on) John Leguizamo. Though he was born in Colombia, Leguizamo’s family moved to New York soon after, and a lifelong love affair with basketball and the New York Knicks began. His latest project is the loosely-autobiographical film Fugly!, out now on demand and on iTunes.

ME: I’ve seen you at lots of Knicks games through the years. Did being a fan of the Knicks start as soon you and your family moved to New York?

LEGUIZAMO: Yeah, definitely. I love basketball — that’s what I played growing up. You know, the sport you play is the sport you end up loving to watch. Somehow, it’s reliving the childhood and the life you never had. So yeah, I was a big Knicks fan back in the day — Clyde and up to Patrick Ewing, Sprewell, Starks, LJ, and up to now, the triangle offense, I’m here.

ME: Even these days, when the franchise is rebuilding, are you still fully invested?

LEGUIZAMO: It’s tough. The triangle offense is a tough thing to figure out. I mean, I guess it worked for Phil Jackson in Chicago and L.A., but how is it going to work on these cats who’ve played so differently all their lives, man? I don’t know, it’s a tough thing to watch. It’s like…(laughing) sending troops into war without weapons. I don’t know. It’s like, “Try and use your fist this time instead of a bayonet!”

ME: Also, to be fair, Phil had Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and Shaq and Kobe in L.A. So there may be a bit of a personnel issue with this Knicks team.

LEGUIZAMO: You mean you don’t think Carmelo is Kobe Bryant? (laughs) I mean, who was Michael Jordan anyway? No athlete will ever equal the excellence of that cat, but Kobe was pretty close, man.

Christmas2014

ME: Let’s get your predictions for the Christmas Day games. First up is your Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards.

LEGUIZAMO: Aw man. I mean, the Knicks will surprise you out of nowhere man, and maybe this is the time they’ll all come together — J.R. Smith and Shumpert — and maybe they’ll still come together for that. So I’ll give it to the Knicks. I mean, they come out of nowhere sometimes and they figure it out, and somehow the triangle offense comes together and somehow they’re loose and free. Or they get totally shut down, I don’t know.

ME: Right, sometimes it’s more like the Bermuda Triangle offense.

LEGUIZAMO: (laughs) Definitely the Bermuda Triangle. I think the Aztecs used The Triangle when they fought the Conquistadores. And what happened to the that empire?

ME: Yeah, didn’t work out so well. What do you do on Christmas Day? Will you watch games, or what’s your plan?

LEGUIZAMO: Well, we travel far. Our families are gypsies, so last year we went to Peru, and this year I’m going to be in Africa on a safari, not a shooting safari but shooting with my camera.

ME: Sounds amazing. OK, next up is the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LEGUIZAMO: Thunder didn’t show up the other night. I mean, Kevin Durant is back, but I’m gonna go Spurs.

ME: Yeah, it’s hard to pick against them. Cleveland Cavaliers at the Miami Heat.

LEGUIZAMO: Aaahhhhhh! Oh dear, that’s gonna be wild. I love LeBron now that he went to the Cavs; somehow he regained my respect and love. But that’s gonna be tough, Look at Dwyane who came in the other day with crazy points. I don’t know, I’m gonna go with the Heat.

ME: Two more. Lakers at the Bulls.

LEGUIZAMO: Bulls. Derrick Rose. That’s all I gotta say, two words: Derrick Rose.

ME: Last one, Los Angeles Clippers at maybe the surprise team of the season, the Golden State Warriors.

LEGUIZAMO: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean, I love the Clippers, man, I love CP3, and after all they went through, I’m going to do the emotional choice instead of the smart choice (laughing), I’m going to go Clippers.

Talk Show: Ernie Johnson

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat - Game Two

NEW YORK CITY — Tonight’s tip-off of the NBA on TNT marks not only the 31st year that Turner Sports has been involved with the NBA, but also the 25th year that Ernie Johnson has been the man in the middle of it all. As the host of “Inside the NBA,” TNT’s award-winning studio show, Johnson maintains a semblance of control over a panel featuring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, during what usually turns into a free-wheeling free-for-all at the end of a long night of games. With the TNT crew in New York City for their season tip-off show tonight live from Times Square, I sat down with EJ yesterday to talk about Inside’s wild ride.

ME: I saw a clip the other day of Charles and you together in the studio, maybe for the first time, back in the early ’90s.

JOHNSON: Yeah, when he was still playing.

ME: Right. And his voice was completely different …

JOHNSON: Oh, I know! “These two teams have some hostility …” He wasn’t The Chuckster.

ME: When he started regularly on “Inside” 15 years ago now, was he closer to what we see now than what we saw in that old clip?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought so. Back then, when he was a player, and I think you see this a lot, players aren’t going to say anything while they’re still playing that might get to somebody. If we’re showing video of somebody in a fight and he says, “Those are two guys who couldn’t break a pane of glass,” then he’s going to hear it next he’s playing against them. I think by the time he got to us — that was probably ’92 or ’93 that first time — he had become the most quotable guy in the league, all-interview team. So all of that built up to when he’s done playing, he had to be on TV and hopefully he would be with us. He’s closer to this than he was to that at the start, if that makes any sense.

ME: Whenever I come by the studios in Atlanta, you’re there in your office hours ahead of being on the air. What is a day like for you? How do you prepare?

JOHNSON: I try to be there 6-7 hours before we go on the air. And I think it’s all because after this many years you get a repetition and you know what a game day is like. It’s not unlike a player’s game day ritual. A player’s going to eat at this time and get to the arena by this time. Like Alex Gordon of the Royals, he’s got this game day regimen where he’s at the ballpark by noon, and he’s working out until this time, he’s got a stopwatch, he’s doing this, doing this, doing this. And I kind of have that same deal, where I use this time to recap last night for my files, I need this time to read the articles from around the country about the teams that are playing tonight, then we have the production meeting, so … it all falls out from that. To me it’s always been about the preparation, and if the day comes when you don’t want to do all the prep work, it’s time for me to say, later. But that hasn’t happened. I still love that. That’s the work. The show is fun, the prep is all the work, and if that prep ever gets to the point where I don’t feel like doing it, I need to check out.


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Inside Inside

ME: I read an interview with you recently where you said your role on the show is basically being a rogue traffic cop.

JOHNSON: That was that Rolling Stone interview.

ME: Right. You’re usually the one asking the questions of the analysts and the players, but you have opinions yourself and you’ve been doing this 25 years, so, let me ask you, who do you think wins the West and the East this season?

JOHNSON: I think Chicago would be the favorite right now, and I think San Antonio would be the team to beat in the West right now, but again, so many things happen. You know, Kawhi Leonard has played one preseason game and now he’s got this eye thing, so, you don’t know. And Kevin Durant, does he come back 100-percent, or is that something that nags him? So that’s why it’s hard to do that. And you know what? I will share my opinions on that show when I feel like I need to. I got three guys here who have been in every conceivable NBA situation. They’re the ones who fans want to hear from. Sometimes you can tell how I feel because I’m going to throw a question out there that reflects where I’m coming from. But then like in a league-wide situation, I wasn’t hesitant at all to speak out on the Donald Sterling thing last year. That first day I said, “Look, if those are his words, the league has no place for him.” I think knowing your role is a big part of that, and knowing how to get these guys where they want to be, and knowing that if I ask Shaq this, Charles is going to broadside him, that’s where the rogue traffic cop comes in.

ME: How has it changed through the years about working with these three guys?

JOHNSON: I don’t think it’s changed very much. The first night that we ever did a show, Kenny and Charles walked out, and Charles asked Kenny what he was going to say about something, and Kenny said, “You’ll find out.” And that hasn’t changed. That’s been the way we do business. We’ve never said, like, “Hey this year why don’t we have everybody in the production meeting and rehearse each segment twice so we know exactly how long it’s going to last.” That would kill the show. It’s continued in what it does well, and that’s spontaneous, off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, unpredictable. And so no, I don’t think we’ve changed a whole lot.

ME: I guess the most obvious change was when you added Shaq a few years ago.

JOHNSON: You bring Shaq into that dynamic, and he’s the world’s biggest kid. I think what got his attention about the show is all the fun that we have, all the laughs, and that’s what he likes to do. As soon as got a grip on the fact that he had to do some homework. And I told him that the first couple months we all worked together. I said, “As much funny stuff as Chuck says and as outrageous as some of the stuff might be, he comes to the studio every night with at least five things he wants to unload before the night’s over. So do the same thing. Have a take on this team or that team.” And he’s done that. The three guys are so different and come at it from different perspectives, and it’s up to me to move it around.

ME: Charles said he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll do this. How long do you think you guys can keep this up?

JOHNSON: I didn’t think we’d be here today. Because what was it, 2000 when we started? I thought, you know what, when the novelty wears off for Charles, whatever time we can get and have the chance to work together, it’ll be fun. I never thought that coming into the 2014-15 season, we’d be talking about, “Here comes another year with all of us.” And then adding Shaq the last few. In this business you never have the next show guaranteed. And so, I always think whatever we’ve done has been a blessing to do it. Believe me, when we sit out there to get ready to do a show, there’s not a time you don’t look around at these guys and say, “Do you know how many people would like to be sitting in my chair?”

Kevin Durant coaches a blindfolded James Harden

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden have reunited since their conscious uncoupling in a commercial for BBVA, the Spanish banking company. But this new ad starring the duo is a doozy. In it, Harden faces off against three defenders, while blindfolded, inside a cage atop the BBVA building in Madrid, while Durant coaches him from a command center in Oklahoma City. It’s a little like a fight scene from a movie — why don’t all three defenders just attack the ball at once? But at the same time, it sure is fun to watch…


VIDEO: Harden Durant

Kevin Durant and Mitch McGary are the world’s toughest scooter gang

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Two members of the Oklahoma City Thunder — Kevin Durant and Mitch McGary — are currently out with foot injuries. And in order to make sure they keep off their healing feet, the Thunder have assigned each of them to a scooter to, you know, scoot around on. Each by itself is just a scooter. Together, they are the world’s toughest scooter gang…

Scooter boys. @mitchmcgary_33 #GetOutMeCar

A photo posted by Kevin Durant (@easymoneysniper) on

Kevin Durant likes good apples

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In a Sports Illustrated story a little over a year ago, Kevin Durant talked about the importance of picking apples. As he said at the time…

To Durant, basketball is an orchard, and every shot an apple. “Let’s say you’ve got 40 apples on your tree,” Durant explains. “I could eat about 30 of them, but I’ve begun limiting myself to 15 or 16. Let’s take the wide-open three and the post-up at the nail. Those are good apples. Let’s throw out the pull-up three in transition and the step-back fadeaway. Those are rotten apples. The three at the top of the circle — that’s an in-between apple. We only want the very best on the tree.”

Nike has run with that thought with a new colorway of Durant’s signature shoe, the KD7. The colorway is called Good Apples, and has hits of red and green. In this new spot below, Durant explains his philosophy. Also, he eats an apple. A good one, I suppose.


VIDEO: Good apples

Who does Kevin Durant play as on NBA 2K?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERKevin Durant is arguably the best player in the NBA right now, but to hear him talk, he is inarguably the best NBA player when it comes to playing the NBA 2K video game. Last night on “The Tonight Show,” Durant noted he’s been playing the game for 15 years, so he’s understandably “really good” at it.

However, Durant said he doesn’t play NBA 2K as himself. Meaning when he plays the game, he doesn’t control the Oklahoma City Thunder. So what player does he use to ensure his winning streak stays alive?

See for yourself…


VIDEO: Durant Fallon

NBA 2K15 evolves beyond a video game

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant dons the cover of the new “NBA 2K15″ video game that impressively elevates its standard of insanely realistic graphics and now unveils a first-of-its-kind technological breakthrough: a live TV show within the game.

Wrap your brain around that for a minute.

“NBA2K TV” is a live highlight and interview show designed to bind the NBA 2K community like no other video game has or can by delivering game news and community-driven content through a live studio television show. In many ways, says Jeff Thomas, Visual Concept’s executive vice president of development, the game is built around the weekly program that features as its host former Old Dominion star and sports broadcast personality Rachel A. DeMita.

Kevin Durant talks about NBA 2K15 during a media event last month.

Kevin Durant talks about NBA 2K15 during a media event last month.

The real-life DeMita — not an animated replica — will greet you every time you put on the game. She’ll provide a brief update on the latest happenings in the NBA 2K community. She might be back later with highlights of your game and ask you how you did it.

You getting this? In the game’s slickly produced trailer, a mesmerized Durant mutters, “Whoa, man, that’s sick.”

The actual show will be streamed into the game once a week and is planned to last about 15 minutes. It will feature fast-paced segments from highlights of actual NBA 2K games played by users who allow 2K to access their systems through the DVR function, plus highlights of NBA 2K tournaments and other large-scale events and interviews with actual game users and tournament winners and exclusive interviews with NBA players, coaches and experts.

NBA2K will be released on Oct. 7, which is also when the first live show will debut. The game will be released internationally on Oct. 10.

“There’s so many ‘wow’ moments as you play the game, as you’re experiencing things with your buddy,” Thomas said. “It may have come down to a last-second buzzer — we really do try to replicate the real NBA. You know how highlights are, how exciting that can be. Well, we really do try to replicate those moments and for our users and game players to share that with the world is what we’re really trying to capture. That’s one part of the content.”

Additional show content will include game news, behind-the-scenes looks at how NBA 2K was made, interviews with the game’s developers, plus NBA player cameos and basketball lifestyle.

“One of my favorite parts of this is I was a former Division I basketball player and to me the point of playing basketball and the point of playing video games is the same thing: to have a really amazing time competing,” DeMita said. “With the show, we always want to have a good time and show all of the culture and the entertainment value that surrounds the NBA, that surrounds NBA2K and that surrounds our gaming community. Everybody is coming there for essentially the same reason. Being able to bring these guys access to some of the things they couldn’t have access to before, for instance they wouldn’t know necessarily that someone in Maryland is at the top of the leader board, but I’ll be able to let the rest of the community know that.

“At the same time someone may not know that Kevin Durant loves to play NBA 2K, and also likes to play with other NBA players. So when I do interviews with him, the whole community will get to watch that and enjoy in those aspects of the culture.”

It is a brave new world. Game on.


VIDEO: NBA 2K15 cover boy Kevin Durant shows off the NBA2K TV feature

 

Kevin Durant Supports The Washington Nationals

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This hurts me more than you know. After all, I’m a fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I was watching the Braves play the Nationals in Atlanta the other night when the Nationals won, clinching the National League East on the Braves’ own field. The Nationals have now won two of the last three division titles, and their fans are rightfully excited. Fans such as DC-area native Kevin Durant, who goes by the nickname Easy Money Sniper, and who took to Instagram to celebrate the Nationals division title by showing off his own custom Nationals jersey…

Yea man! Natitude

A photo posted by Kevin Durant (@easymoneysniper) on

This guy really likes Kevin Durant’s Nikes

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A rumor built over the last week or so that Kevin Durant was considering leaving Nike to wear Under Armour sneakers. UA had made a huge offer, and it was up to Nike to match that offer. After a few days of considering the options, Nike matched KD’s deal, which made KD happy…

By now, Kevin Durant has had seven different signature shoes, and almost every shoe has come in not only a colorway that matches the Thunder’s uniforms, but then also several other colorways. Last year’s shoe, the KD VI, came in a bunch of colorways. And one man in Oklahoma City, Chris McCord, bought them all. Twenty-five designs released, twenty-five pairs purchased. Check the video below to see how it all came about, and read the full story here.

Can he kick it? Yes, he can…

Buy a pack of NBA cards, get a piece of a game-worn shoe?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Basketball cards have long been more than just photos and text. Years ago companies started inserting cards with little authentic game-worn keepsakes built-in to the card — swatches of jerseys, a piece of a court, etc. But this season cards are going where they’ve never gone before.

In Panini America’s 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball collection, releasing on Friday, they’ve managed to incorporate cards that have pieces of game-worn shoes from everyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant to Larry Johnson inside the cards. Panini wrote about the genesis of the idea on their official blog

“The idea to create the Sneak Peek memorabilia cards came while we were looking at a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn sneakers in the Panini Authentic memorabilia room,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America’s Senior Director of Product Development. “NBA players, more so than any other athletes, wear sneakers that reflect their personalities. Their sneakers are an extension of who they are. It’s all about the swag.”

That swag, of course, takes various forms. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Pumps. Blake Griffin’s Jordans. Kobe’s Kobes. Larry Johnson’s Converse Reacts. LeBron’s Nike Lebron Xs. It was one thing to create a wishlist of game-worn sneakers to target for Sneak Peek; it was another thing altogether more complex to actually acquire them and then figure out how best to incorporate them into a trading card.

But Panini America acquisitions officials worked their relationships with exclusive and non-exclusives athletes alike to turn a wishlist into a checklist; from there, the game-worn sneakers made their way through Panini America HQ, with each department — Product Development, Production, Design — helping shape the masterful finished product.

“This was truly a great experience to develop and execute with the various departments within Panini America,” Stefano said. “It was a true team effort that resulted in one of the most singularly spectacular sets of trading cards ever created. The sheer amount of different swatch colors, materials and patterns is a unique and exciting development for the entire trading card category. We believe these cards will not only be sought after by basketball collectors but by sneaker heads as well.”

To see some examples of the cards, check below…

panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kobe-bryant-2panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-larry-johnson-1  panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kevin-durant-4 panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-derrick-rose-1