It’s good to be back. When you’ve been away for a while, you’re excited to get back to work and have a good time while you’re it. The journey starts all over again
On Tuesday morning, season three of The ETCs debuted. Joined by his co-host, Eddie Gonzalez, Kevin Durant returned to the pod after taking care of business over the summer. This is Durant’s 16th year in the NBA and with this new season underway, he’s on track to make history.
Currently, KD is 21st all time on the scoring list. If everything goes to plan this season, he’ll leapfrog a bunch of basketball legends on the road to 30,000 points. As Shane Young of Forbes Magazine wrote about Durant’s scoring prowess in 2019:
“There isn’t an area of basketball, at least with the ball in his hands, that he doesn’t excel within. His dexterity from close range, beyond the arc, foul drawing, converting at the line, and being comfortable with a large offensive burden or reduced role are all components of his grandeur.”
As he noted in the pod, the name of the game is to score and when you score in the myriad of ways that he can, it puts you in the pantheon of the greatest to ever grace a basketball court. Vince Carter holds the record for most seasons played with 22, but don’t be surprised if Durant comes close to matching him when the book is closed on his illustrious career.
KD is fourth all time in points per game at 27.2 a night with only Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor ahead of him. If you wanted to tell the story of the NBA, those four would do just fine.
KD also discussed his former teammate, Russell Westbrook. It’s been a rough year and change for the former MVP as he’s struggled with the Los Angeles Lakers and received criticism for everything imaginable. The latest controversy came from viral videos of him not joining in huddle. To those who know, it didn’t register as a big deal or even anything new. KD spoke about that situation and said:
.@KDTrey5 on the criticism Russell Westbrook has been receiving:— Boardroom (@boardroom) October 18, 2022
"It's like now you're making him the butt of your jokes. ... The dialog around our game is just so toxic at this point. I get criticism [on the court], but it's starting to turn into something else right now." pic.twitter.com/jRd8bs5eFS
When you take a look at how the NBA is discussed in a lot of venues, you see where he’s coming from. Over the past few years, the NBA has gone all in on Twitter as they connect with fans worldwide. It’s grown the game and made it accessible for new and previous generations of basketball fans. Unfortunately, the Twitter discourse has managed to warp the actual discussion of the game. It feels as if slander, legacy talk, and negativity have won out and warped how we view everything. For Westbrook in particular, he's on the receiving end of online pile-ons every day and like Durant said, it's gotten to a point where it's overly personal and beyond basketball. The game is supposed to be fun, but all the negativity around it has taken a lot of the enjoyment away from it.
It’s a shame since the talent in the NBA is off the charts. Hopefully that goes back to being the main thing instead of all the negativity and nonsense.
Durant also spoke about his new teammate, Ben Simmons.
Ben can do so much with the ball, bringing the ball up, setting the screen and rolling to the rim,, guarding the perimeter. So you gotta be on point as a teammate to play off him, to play around him and then in transition, it’s been a big adjustment. First couple of days of practice, he threw the ball and it hit me right in the face.” he said with a laugh.
Throughout training camp, he and his teammates have encouraged and supported Simmons as he makes his way back to his previous All Star form. KD noted that it would take time for everyone to get their legs under them and find the team identity, and that proved to be too true on Opening Night against the New Orleans Pelicans. He mentioned that the ball movement with Simmons is contagious and when Brooklyn develops into the best version of themselves, will meet and exceed expectations.
The next generation
On Wednesday night, Paolo Banchero made his NBA debut and made a bit history. He scored 27 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and handed out five assists as the Orlando Magic lost a nailbiter to the Detroit Pistons. There have only been two other No. 1 picks to put up a 25-5-5 line in their NBA debuts. Can you guess who they are? LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!
With Victor Wembanyama on the way and Chet Holmgren returning from injury next season, we see the continued evolution of the game.
Business is booming
Earlier this month, we covered 35 Ventures’ latest investment into the upstart sports league, Athletes Unlimited. They’re back at it again and are heading into a whole new arena.
On Thursday, Durant and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, announced that 35V purchased an expansion team in Major League Pickleball. The team will debut in 2023 and with the game exploding in popularity, having an investment from this group will help them climb even higher heights. If the team needs a few players, we know some people
MLP CEO, Steve Kuhn, spoke about his new business partners and said
“They not only bring passion for the game, but also unrivaled expertise to help us to continue to grow. We’re especially excited about their plans to bring pickleball to underserved communities – something they have done with basketball for years.”
Along with the new team, MLP and 35V will partner on some community initiatives, including refurbishing basketball courts across the world. In June, Durant, the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Liberty, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, partnered to renovate a schoolyard in Brooklyn.
Everything else aside, that is great to see as Durant continues to call New York home, It’s something that will continue to help build a bridge between the athletes and the community, maybe tone down some of that toxic talk.
- Kevin Durant defends Russell Westbrook from continued criticism: ‘Dialogue around our game is just so toxic’ - Jack Maloney - CBS Sports