The Story of When Kevin Met Rich began a Jay Z Concert in 2008, Kleiman represented the rapper Wale. Wale knew Durant because both came from the DC area. Before the show, the manager of Jay-Z Durant invited backstage to meet HOV himself. In a moment of 19-year self-doubt Durant braced himself. A bad case of a swindler syndrome set in.
"I was just a beginner," says Durant. For example, I'll probably go in and see Kobe or LeBron, I can not sit there and talk to them yet, I'm not up there with that level. "
Kleiman loves this story to tell. It is still the essence of his relationship with Durant. He always asks Durant to tell more about the business and philanthropic ventures they have built together. Durant always humbly steps off the spotlight. For while Durant can impose his will on the basketball court, he still refuses a bit. "I know Rich wishes I could do more: stand up for what I did," Durant says, "but at the same time, I'm not trying to go overboard. We do not want to put up the flag and say, "Yo, these are Dirty Five Media around the world. Make sure you pay attention to us! & # 39;
In that sense, Durant knows exactly who he is, he's not a snoop or hype man, he's an outrage who needs people like Kleiman and Thirty Five Ventures to build Sarah Flynn for his business and brand The company currently employs ten people but is moving to a new office building in New York City as Durant continues its cautious expansion: "I just feel like you can do it more strategically," he says Kleiman laughs: If Durant finds it more convenient to downplay her successes and ambitions, he agrees.
"If I leave it to me myself, I sometimes transform into Flava Flav, "jokes Kleiman. It does not affect my job, my pay, my property, nothing if the people in Prince George's County do not quite understand the meaning of Kevin [in opening the Durant Center]. But it keeps me awake at night ̵
This reluctance to self-promotion is part of the reason why Durant was intrigued by the concept of the show, knowing he could not be the only athlete who took the time to find a foothold in the business world or ask whether he belonged in Jay-Z's locker room.
"I did not have the experience of being in this room," Durant says of himself as a beginner. "Once I started getting into I had the experience that I was in this room Could give something back to conversations. I felt better. "
However, it took nearly a decade to get there, and even now he asks more questions to the savvy people he meets than to answer them."
"The cool part of KD in the Show you how he's learning with you, "Williams says. Nobody tries to say, "Hey, we are the leaders of the free world and we know everything there is to know." This is like a reconnaissance trip. "
For Durant and Kleiman, Williams was the perfect choice to host the show, feeling like his own story plunged into the business world – ending his professional playing career Motorcycle crash only a year in – gave him a unique perspective.
As No. 2 of the 2002 NBA draft, he had laid out the same kind of golden path as Durant did as a No. 2 pick five years later. "I'm 18 , 19 years old and sitting there watching Puff [Daddy] playing the piano, [Scooter Braun] signing me with Bad Boy and I'm like & # 39; how the hell did any of that happen? & # 39;
", he says.
" At that time nobody really saw how inefficient the model was. Her agent has 25, 30 other people, and then hire a marketing director who has just shared his time. "
Then everything went away, his second career had to start before his first career ever began, and he started asking the kinds of existential questions that you can only see when your existence has fundamentally changed." 19659003] "I just think that now you have people driving the car, whereas before they would sit behind and let the owner drive the car," Williams says. The currency has changed. Guys are still making sales contracts, but now it's not about approval anymore, it's about how do I own equity? How do I get a 10x my investment? "
Over the last two decades, the best athletes have fundamentally changed the sports business, much as Jay-Z and Diddy have changed the music industry, why let the record label own your songs – or your agents control your image – if you do Produce, Distribute, and Own Themselves
At first it was organic, then the Warriors took it to a new level, with players like Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry partnering with venture capitalists and Digerati from Silicon Valley becoming Warriors. Games were passed, chubby, and when the team went to the Hamptons to join Durant as a free agent, the opportunity came along. An immersion in the bustling business scene of the Bay Area was a selling point.
"It was like," Listen, Man, we're a family, we'll take care of your interests. "" Iguodala says the team spoke to Durant. "" I mean, you make it a business anyway. So we can help in every possible way, and we have an owner who feels the same way. "
Joe Lacob, owner of Warriors and venture capitalist, says he does everything to create a culture that promotes personal growth exploration.
"I've been very good as an investor for 30 years, but I've always known in my second life – I wanted to have a completely different business life because it revitalizes you," Lacob explains, "and for me it was about sports So I went completely out of the VC industry and did this full time.
"If you're in your primary career, try to prepare for your second career. And hopefully your first career has reached a normal logical endpoint, then you're ready to immerse yourself and make it big. That happened to me. That's what these guys should do. They will not be investment experts as long as they are players, but they can learn and learn from top people, learn from some investments, and when they're done, hopefully they're ready to take the next step, to turn this into a second life.
Ask Durant what he wants to do in his second life after finishing his career, and he sounds a bit like Phil Jackson. "I could be on a waterfront ranch in Montana. Or live on the slopes. I do not know what I could do. I just like what I'm putting up for myself now – something sustainable. "
At age 30, he has a lot more basketball to play and big decisions about where he'll spend the rest of his career, currently focusing on it building a legacy on and off the court, starting with a $ 10 million investment in the learning center that bears his name.
But before he arrives at the center's opening ceremony, he has to make a stop four o'clock in the afternoon, and he had no time for lunch.As Durant and his team drive from Warriors' elegant team hotel in Georgetown to Prince George's County, he pulls his caravan into a grocery store in a grocery store and pick up Croissant and Sweets No matter how far Durant travels in life, the sweet tooth comes along As a kid growing up on those streets, Durant often stopped by McDonalds where his brother worked, and f STUFFED his water cup with Sprite.
On this day, he tells this story of the first group of children being supported by the Durant Center.
"I told them that this building bears my name, but it's yours," says Durant. "You will spend more time here than I. Make it your home."
Durant wanted to extend his charitable donations the same way he had expanded his business portfolio. Real money – in this case a full third of its current annual salary of $ 30 million – would make a difference to children who have gone the same way. In 2018 alone, he donated $ 3 million to basketball and sports leadership programs at the University of Texas and provided $ 10 million (over 10 years) to the Durant Center.
"It's doing something," he says. "We make a lot of money, so we should be able to return it."
Only a handful of media outlets were invited to open the Learning Center when he privately met a small group of 59 opening class students who attend high school, college, and private development tutoring, summer programs, and personal development workshops becomes.
"I remember living here as a high school student next door," says Durant. "I was number 2 in the country, and my mother and I lived in a two-bedroom bedroom next door and they still wake up fighting."
He's in the gym at Suitland High, where he's in ninth grade. It's full of people who knew him back then or like to say they did. A group of high school students follow him everywhere, hoping for advice – or maybe just a selfie.
Durant seems genuinely moved.
"That's what life is all about," he says.
The aim is to get in touch with every person, even if it is just a quick interaction. It was not so long ago that he was too scared to visit Jay-Z in his locker room, too shy to be asked for advice – or maybe just a selfie. Sometimes the barriers to entry are self-made. If he can help others to find their trust, it feels important.
It's dizzying and inspiring – the culmination of 30 years of work and self-discovery, but also a first attempt to shape a legacy.
"We all like different things," he says. "We'll all do different things, but something brings us together, maybe it's here."
This story appears in the March issue of ESPN The Magazine. Subscribe today!