NBA sensation. Olympic gold medalist. Movie star? OK, so Kevin Durant isn’t a triple-threat just yet, but he’s making his bid to join fellow basketball greats Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal by putting a feature-length movie on his resume. Thunderstruck stars Durant as himself, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar who, in a bit of Freaky Friday-trickery, transfers his basketball skills to a high school teen (Taylor Gray). Warner Bros. invited my sons – huge Durant fans – to Dallas recently to speak with the 23-year-old superstar about his movie debut, as well as his recent run through the Summer Games in London. Here are the five most important things we learned:
1. He keeps his gold medal …
In his backpack. For the moment. But that’s primarily because he hasn’t been home since he left London, where he and the 2012 Dream Team won Gold in the men’s basketball competition. Durant basically went from Great Britain to Oklahoma City, where Warner Bros. held a splashy world premiere for the family comedy Thunderstruck. Then he went on a mini press junket, which included the stop in Dallas we were able to attend. But he told my 4-year-old son, “When I get home, I’ve got a nice trophy case I’m going to put it in.”
2. His favorite sport besides basketball is …
Football. Durant’s a Washington, D.C. native, and he grew up worshipping the Redskins. But he did tell my 8-year-old that he has developed an affinity for a new sport, thanks once again to his participation in the Olympic Games. “I’m a big handball fan now, after watching it in the Olympics,” Durant said. “I watched a ton of that over in London.”
3. If he could switch talents with any other person, it would be …
Robert Griffin III, better known as RG3. As mentioned, Durant’s a rabid Redskins fan. He told my son that he’d love to switch places with the former Baylor University quarterback, who was drafted by the ‘Skins with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. “I would love to play for the Washington Redskins,” Durant admits. “That was always a dream of mine growing up.”
4. If he had to choose between basketball and acting …
He’d lean toward sports. At 6-feet, 9-inches, Durant’s a natural talent who excels at the NBA level. And while he enjoyed the diversion that acting in a feature film provided, he told my sons, “I have more confidence while I’m practicing [basketball] and playing in a game. That’s way more natural for me. I have been doing it ever since I was your age. Acting was totally different. It really took me a while to get used to it. I was always very shy. So when I got in front of the camera, it took me a while to warm up and be myself.”
5. His Olympic mission isn’t quite finished.
Durant said that playing alongside Kobe Bryant and LeBron James was “a great experience,” and that winning the Gold medal – with the crowd chanting “U.S.A.” at the buzzer – was “the greatest feeling in the world. But he also told us that he plans to return to the Olympic Games in 2016 to make another run at the Gold medal. “That’s my goal, to win another one,” Durant said. “Hopefully I’m given the chance to do so.”
Thunderstruck opens in select theaters on Friday, Aug. 24.