Kevin Durant took a trip six weeks after he led the Golden State Warriors to their second NBA title in three years.
But he couldn’t relax and leave work behind because it wasn’t a true vacation.
On Thursday, Durant landed in India for the first time, kicking off a three-day journey to help develop the sport in the world’s second most populous nation.
A day later, Durant established a Guinness World Record for largest basketball lesson when he presented a clinic for 3,459 Indian 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program. While some of the players were in Delhi at the NBA Academy India, an exclusive training center for the best male and female prospects in the country, others were in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata and joined the camp via satellite to work with Durant.
Durant, the first NBA player to visit the academy, told reporters before the clinic that “just the buzz around basketball here is growing and growing every single day,” thanks in large part to the tools provided by the facility. Together with the game’s accessibility—two games a day, highlights, waking up at six in the morning to see a Finals game—I believe that will aid the development of the young people. That exemplifies commitment, that demonstrates love and affection. That’s going to increase with time. Just be patient and you’ll see more and more.”
While in India, Durant coached some of the country’s most promising young players and gave the Ramjas school in New Delhi two brand new basketball courts as part of his foundation’s Build It and They Will Ball court restoration program.
Basketball is becoming increasingly popular, according to Durant. I believe the NBA’s decision to come (to India) as a result of their investigation into the best places to develop the game was a bold one. It’s awesome to be the first (NBA player) to come here and hang out with the kids and see what they can become.
With the opening of the NBA Academy India in May, the NBA is continuing its global push to introduce basketball to young people everywhere. Academy teams represent the league in Asia, Oceania, and Africa.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver noted during the initiative’s inception in October 2016 that NBA Academies were the “logical next step in the league’s global grassroots basketball activities,” with a specific focus on assisting “elite-level junior players” in reaching their full potential. Top international prospects will thrive under a system that integrates academics and personal growth with NBA-level coaching, training, and competition.
The timing of Durant’s tour could not be better for maximizing the NBA’s global influence. Stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and Joel Embiid were among the record-setting 113 international players from 41 nations and territories who were on NBA rosters to open the 2016-17 season.