KD says he's finally "waking up."
Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Kevin Durant recently opened up about a number of issues, including race and his ability to make an impact as an NBA player, during an interview with Logan Murdock of the Mercury News.
In speaking about race in America, Durant says he's now more aware of how he's viewed as a black athlete compared to an average black male and the difficulties they face on a daily basis.
"Finally waking up, to be honest. Just kind of seeing how rough it is for an average black man, you know what I'm saying? And on top of that, a black man makes one mistake ... I see how far we get pushed down. For me, I kind of grew up in this basketball world, whereas my talent kind of overrides what I look like."
The NBA Finals MVP also touched on what it was like growing up near Washington D.C. and how his ability to play basketball kept him off the streets at a young age while his friends were getting into drugs and hanging around the wrong crowds.
"Man, as a basketball player, it's a thing in my neighborhood. Like, East Coast, if you're a basketball player, people know you as that, they know you're focusing on basketball," Durant said. "Nobody really tried to get me to be in the street life because I was either always walking to the gym or I was always in the gym.
"I had friends that got into bad s---, as far as drugs, as far as hanging around the wrong crowds, as far as just trying to make money some way, because we're stuck. It's not necessarily a fact that we're so in love with the bad s---, or the stuff that's illegal, it's just like, our people are taught to survive. So if you put us in a neighborhood, no resources, no help, nobody to just be there for us ... what else can we do but make us some easy s--- to make us some money? My mom grew up on that, my brother grew up on that."
"I didn't have it as rough when it comes to that, as far as social or systematic oppression or any social issues. They didn't really apply to me because I could put a ball in a basket," Durant said. "Just me saying that kind of woke me up a little bit, like, 'Damn, that's all I'm good for?' Like, if I wasn't a basketball player, what kind of man would they look at me as, you know what I'm saying?"
Now that Durant has made it, he says he hopes to be an inspiration to young black men who are facing struggles that he may not experience as a famous athlete.
"You feel for those people who don't know what they're passionate about, don't have any true inspiration around them, true role models to look at. That's why I feel like it's so important for me to represent where I come from because for kids, just to say, you know, 'He walked on the same streets I walked on, he playing on TV. He on the cover of GQ. People know who he is. He out there actually doing something he love every day, in front of millions of people.' I know for sure that it inspired somebody. Even if they don't play ball, even if they're just trying to look for a way to get out of Maryland or get out of PG County. Well, we got somebody who did it, we're seeing it every day, and it makes me just walk around with pride."
Among the topics discussed during his interview with Logan Murdock, KD also touched on his move from Oklahoma City and how there are much bigger things in the world to be upset about than his decision to play basketball in another state.
He told Murdock, "I'm going to be here for a long time, so you going to be mad for a while, and [if] you'd rather be mad for a while than just accept it, that's on you." You can check out the full interview here.