Kevin Durant took a break from his busy schedule in Rio to talk with Sam Amick of USA Today. The two talked about a variety of topics.
“I had some chills when we went to the Finals in 2012 (with the Oklahoma City Thunder); a tear rolled down my eyes in that moment,” Durant, who signed with the Golden State Warriors last month, said after practice on Thursday. “But you can’t really put into words (what it feels like when) you’re so united like that.
“You look in the stands, and you see everybody that has an American flag on, or red, white and blue. And it’s not about the Warriors or the Raptors or the Clippers or the Knicks, it’s all about Team USA.”
Durant seems to be in awe of the Olympic crowds which is cool to see, as fans it’s always nice to be recognized by athletes, especially star athletes. The atmosphere in international games does appear to be a bit louder than NBA games and Durant confirms it.
The newest member of the Warriors is averaging 18.5 points per game in Rio. Team USA is undefeated thus far despite a few close calls.
Amick asked Durant what the crowd unity at Wednesday’s game meant to him.
But Wednesday’s game went deeper than that for Durant.
As he looked up in the stands during those final minutes against Argentina – thousands of fans from both sides chanting, flags waving, the building booming in the kind of way you never see in the NBA – he soaked in the spirit of it all and thought about how much it contrasted to the troubling times back home. If only for a moment, America’s many problems – the racial tension, police brutality, political divides and all the rest – didn’t seem quite so big.
Durant responded with this.
“To see that, and to feel that unity (at the game) with all that’s going on in our country right now, it was amazing,” said Durant, who looked plenty motivated in the 105-78 win over Argentina in which he had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists. “Just to hear ‘USA,’ it just shows that we’re the most powerful and greatest country there is, and to see everyone come together no matter (the) race, no matter the background, anything, just to hear that, that’s what I thought about. It was amazing, man. I wish I could’ve taped that moment, but I didn’t have my phone on me.
“The fans just have so much pride, man, and I feel like we can do that (in America). But we’re just so separated, man. It’s sad to see. I just hope at some point, as a nation, that we just start to find it.”
Now those word are all well and good, but it’s still after all a basketball game. Last week while this was all happening there was more racial tensions in Milwaukee. Kevin Durant said,“The fans just have so much pride, man, and I feel like we can do that (in America). But we’re just so separated, man. It’s sad to see. I just hope at some point, as a nation, that we just start to find it.”
But don’t we do that everyday in America when people go to football, basketball and baseball games? Every game starts with a national anthem and a lot of games have a big flag displayed on the field or court. Durant is talking a lot about patriotism which always comes up during the Olympics, but since when is patriotism defined by how loud you chant?
Durant also talked about the game against Australia, the first team that gave Team USA a scare.
“We played Australia (on Aug. 10), and those guys were hugging when the anthem came on, and those fans were singing it – the fans were singing the anthem, and you could tell they take pride in where they come from,” Durant said. “Last night (against Argentina) it felt like we were all just one, and we only (started chanting “USA”) because we were like, ‘Oh, we can’t let them outshine us.’ But that’s pride for our country, right?”
Team USA continues their quest for gold today versus Spain.