Warriors star pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick’s protest movement. Eight-time All-Star won first NBA title with Warriors last season
Kevin Durant says the protest movement started by Colin Kaepernick, as well as the vitriol he received after his departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors, have opened his eyes to his status as a black man in America.
In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Durant says he has thought more about race and America in the last 18 months. Before that, he says he was shielded from the problems many African Americans face due to his extraordinary basketball skills. “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,” said the eight-time NBA All-Star. “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.”
At the start of the last NFL season, Colin Kaepernick started to kneel during the national anthem to highlight racial injustice in the US. Durant says Kaepernick’s actions had an impact. “It definitely put me in a different place because we just started talking about stuff that’s always been going on,” said Durant. “You tend to just focus on what you know, or focus on what you do every day, and sometimes you can be so far removed from where you grew up or from home that you don’t realize what’s going on back there.”
Durant won his first NBA title after joining the Warriors last season but was the subject of “pure hate” from some fans who considered him disloyal for leaving the Thunder. However, he says his new home on the west coast has helped him grow as a person. “Every part of the Bay, from hip-hop culture, music culture, rock’n’roll, to athletes, to politicians, everything is influenced by the [Bay Area, home to the Warriors],” he said. “It has its own style. I knew that, but as far as just coming out here and really feeling free, feeling like you could be yourself, feeling like you can love whatever you want to love and not be judged for it, and not be ridiculed for it, I feel like everybody should want to feel that way, everybody should want to be in that atmosphere.”
Durant also reflected on his life as an NBA superstar with the life of those he grew up with in Washington DC. “We’re stuck. It’s not necessarily a fact that we’re so in love with the bad shit, 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 sh-t to make us some money?”
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