The post below was originally published on June 30, 2016. In honor of Kevin Durant's amazing Finals appearance and the Golden State Warriors championship win, we're revisiting our time in Austin with Kevin and the Nike team as they unveiled his 9th signature sneaker. These two days in ATX were a blast and, in our opinion, Kevin's victory on the court only amplifies the kind person he seems to be off the court.
It seems incredibly ironic (and fitting) that his championship season arrives 10 years after he leaped from NCAA stardom at UT Austin to OKC standout, to perennial punching bag to, now, an NBA champion. Take a trip with us down Hook em lane as we indulged in a time to remember with KD and Nike Basketball.
Last week we had the honor to high tail it to Austin for a Texas-sized unveiling of the Nike KD 9. Bloggers, influencers, and sneaker-lover-writers from across the country and the world (shout out to the homie Nikko from the Philippines) descended on Austin to spend some quality time with the man of the hour: Kevin Durant.
Nike spared no expense to show us a good time In ATX, but it was all about the soul of the KD9 and the next evolution in Durant's game, life, and brand. KD's personal request for this launch was that members of the media were given the opportunity to see and experience his second home. The city of Austin, with it's big-little music city vibes is also a huge sports town where the Longhorns reign supreme. Three of KD Trey's favorite things (basketball, art, and music) all can be found in abundance here. So, since we got to see where Durant's game turned into magic we thought we'd break down 5 of our favorite moments from our stay in Longhorn country because...#HookEm.
1. Stubbs is Kang.
We started out trip with an opportunity to grab a word with KD, shoe designer Leo Chang, and a look at the KD9 up close and personal. One of Austin's favorite slap-your-mama-it's-so-good BBQ joints hosted the fete as media, Nike employees, and enough camera equipment to make Best Buy jealous clamored into the back room at Stubbs BBQ.
In between interviews and sneaker 'ooohs and ahhhs' I sat myself on Stubb's partially covered patio (thank God for high powered fans, y'all) and admired the art work created by local ATX artist Mike Johnston chronicling KD's rise from D.C. kid to OKC powerhouse.
2. Gregory Got That Work.
Day 1 was all about getting to know the KD9. Day 2? Getting a feel for the KD9. And, what better place to do that than on the University of Texas at Austin campus in the legendary house that basketball built: Gregory Gymnasium? None.
After a trek to the hardwood, we were greeted by Texas Basketball Head Coach Shaka Smart who filled us in on the legacy of Texas Basketball and why KD remains one of the school's favorite sons. Then, he put KD to work. Running shooting drills, offensive drills and defensive drills allowed us to see first hand how the KD9 performs on court AND reminded us that KD definitely has that work.
3. Ballers Gonna Ball.
Now, it was our turn. To be completely honest, I can't play basketball to save my life or my mama's so, I opted to observe in my KD Trey 5's (baby feet means no KD9's for me - *insert tear*) and shoot my own shots on my Samsung from the sidelines. Some of my media peers, though? Legit ball out moments. Coach Smart and KD stuck around to run drills with the rec league all-stars and then - it was game time. In teams folks moved with ease in the KD9's, paying close attention to comfort and stability.
Let's just say, when the last whistle blew I saw nobody making moves to remove their shoes. Swoosh.
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4. Texas 4Eva.
Athletics (along with BBQ and the word "y'all") are king in Texas. No place is that more apparent than in HookEm country. Following the hoops at Gregory, we were treated to a facility tour of Texas' other powerhouse sport: Longhorn Football.
After a glimpse at the massive bronze shrine to Texas great Ricky Williams and an epic totally-Texas battle cry etched in the walls for all to see, we made our way to the tunnel and yes, IT. WAS. MAGIC. My run/walk/skip through the burnt orange entrance and into the heart of Longhorn country was the stuff of Rudy dreams. Walking the turf and taking in the massive structure that is Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was enough to make me throw up my own horns at the 50 yard line.
5. Art and Music = Austin, Texas.
Being defined only by sport is quite one dimensional. KD knows this and, though a fierce athlete and competitor, he's also developed several creative interests off of the court. We got to experience two of those first hand during our Day 2 Austin tour. First stop: Hope Outdoor Gallery. A giant ode to spray paint, creatives and free expression, the Hope Outdoor Gallery is a community paint park located at 11th and Baylor in Downtown Austin. We met the man behind those KD paintings, artist Mike Johnston, at the park for a little spray paint action of our own on the walls of this artist sanctuary.
Next stop: the legendary Austin City Limits building - well, kind of. We were given the tremendous opportunity to tour the new ACL Live Moody Theater diggs. The theater is a state-of-the-art, 2,750-person capacity live music venue that hosts approximately 100 concerts a year. It also serves as the permanent home for the taping of the PBS produced series, Austin City Limits, the longest running music series in American television history.
I had a great time in Austin and can't wait for the next Nike adventure, but in the meantime, I thought it would be pretty awesome to share some of the goods from our stay in ATX. Lucky for us, the good folks at Nike were kind enough to provide swoosh apparel in spades and TWO lucky winners will get some of the love.
Be sure to follow the rules below (BOTH tasks must be fulfilled) and we'll announce each winner via our Snapchat (SN: CNKDaily) on Tuesday, July 5th.