This week, episode 5 of the Bill Simmons and Kevin Durant was released on The Ringer’s Bill Simmons Podcast. It was released as a two-part special. Part one being a review of everything basketball that has happened since their last podcast after the NBA Finals last summer. Part two was a mailbag that allowed fans to ask questions to one of the NBA greats in todays game, and a lot of the questions turned into casual conversation between KD and Simmons.
This is a series that a true sports fan needs to listen to and should appreciate.
These conversations have been able to provide personal input from one of the NBA’s top 3 players in an unfiltered situation. Durant talks shit on all the bloggers in the media by referring to them as “Blog Boys,” while appearing on a blogging website. He talks about the players he admires in the league, his relationship with players around the league (including Russell Westbrook), and just about anything else that you could think of that we wished we would hear from star players.
I think it is common knowledge that players and coaches do not like to give much away to the media, especially when it is their weekly media appearances that the leagues make them participate in. If only there was a freeform platform that would allow these athletes and coaches to sit down with someone they are comfortable with, and just shoot the shit for an hour at a time to get a perspective of what it is like to be in their shoes. Oh wait, this is exactly what the Durant/Simmons series has been!
Imagine LeBron James doing a podcast series with Brian Windhorst or Maverick Carter during his first year in Miami, or Peyton Manning doing the same thing with Chris Mortenson when he signed with the Broncos after he left the Colts. How awesome would have that been?
Tom Brady is the only other current sports superstar that has done something like this. After the Patriots Super Bowl comeback victory against the Falcons, Brady did a two-part podcast with Peter King from the MMQB while he was on vacation in Montana to recap the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. They also talked about where Brady was in his career, and how much longer he sees himself in the league. Brady then released a Facebook Watch series, “Tom vs Time,” this January that gives a glimpse into Brady’s personal life.
This was all great content for a sports enthusiast, but the difference between what Brady and Durant are doing right now is that Durant is currently in his prime, and Brady is a year or two away from retiring from the NFL. Brady has already won five Super Bowls and cemented his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time. He has nothing to lose with releasing all this personal incite now because anything he accomplishes from now on is icing on the cake. Durant on the other hand still has lots to prove. He just earned his first NBA championship, and all the injuries piling up currently for the Warriors suggests there are no sure-things this year. Curry’s continuous ankle injuries this year has now made Durant the leader of this team the rest of the season and could attribute to more scrutiny if he does not deliver the team a second straight NBA Championship. Regardless of all this added pressure, Durant decided to do another podcast with Simmons just three weeks before the team plays their first-round series against who knows at this point with how close the Western Conference race has been.
There is also a lot of push back with Durant because of his history with not being a fan of the sports media. His relationship with Oklahoma City media was not always great, and when he left the Thunder to join the 73-win Warriors team that beat the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, the national media was relentless for good reason. Then you have the fake twitter accounts that Durant was responding to fans using an alias to defend himself.
I get it, some of this shows immaturity and self esteem issues, but at least it is authentic. Most athletes, especially the ones that are at the top of their sport, put up a wall and only provide you with the politically correct answer to everything. That sucks.
Hopefully what Durant has done the past two years is the beginning of what we might get to see from other superstar athletes: an unfiltered look at the life of a superstar athlete in their prime, and everything that goes along with it.
Photo Credit: Bill Simmons Instagram (@sptguy33)