The scoring swingman went into the lab with some of hip-hop’s best beatmakers for coveted colorways of his 15th signature sneaker with the Swoosh.
Deep cuts define the catalog of a composer or the ability of a hooper to get open off the ball.
For Kevin Durant, basketball’s smoothest scorer with an equally eclectic ear, the craft of cooking an opponent or structuring an amazing album are parallel passions.
“Just like these artists got basketball courts in their house, I’ve got a studio in mine,” KD tells Boardroom.
“Once you get in there and try to understand the process? You respect the artist even more. I’m working on some music, just having fun. It’s a hobby.”
This summer, Durant spent time in the studio and even more time in the lab, perfecting the shooting stroke he displays night in and night out at Barclay’s Center. When he’s not using the court as his canvas, he’s catching flights to London in support of Travis Scott, finding inspiration and appreciation in the artistic expression of his friends.
This Fall, Kevin’s connection to hoops and hip-hop comes full circle with the launch of the Nike KD15 “Producer Pack.” Enlisting Cardo, 9th Wonder, and Boi-1da for thematic colorways, the pack proves an extension of Durant’s dedication to crossover crafts.
“Once I came up with the idea? Those were the first three that to came to mind,” Durant shares. “We’ve all sat and had conversations about sneakers and hoops before.”
All versatile veterans in the game in their own right, the bond between ball and beats have forged friendships that run deep.
“You come to the conclusion that you can relate to [artists] more than anyone when it comes to working on a craft every day.”
Checking all boxes, the KD15 “Producer Pack” plays as if synesthesia were a sneaker. Track by track, Boardroom breaks down Kevin’s newest performance pair, each co-created with his peers in production.
“In this game, you gotta be versatile”
Calling in Cardo, the sonic source for Jeezy’s “Seen it All,” Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps,” and Drake‘s “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” the platinum producer swung for the fences, creating a collage of grails all merged on KD’s latest signature.
Like a lush beat, Cardo samples the smooth grey suede of the KAWS x Air Jordan 4 while adding bass by way of iridescent accents inspired by Jason Kidd’s Nike Zoom Flight 95. Closing it out in stadium status, he pulls from the palette of Kanye West’s acclaimed “Pure Platinum” Nike Air Yeezy 2, illuminating the edges with glow-in-the-dark detailing.
Just as his track record ranges from holy hits like “God’s Plan” to murky mood setters like “Through the Late Night,” Cardo knows agility is key not just on the court but also behind the boards.
“In this game, you gotta be versatile,” notes Cardo. “If you wanna be in this game for a long time you gotta know how to switch it up and you gotta know how to create every time and be innovative.”
Launching on Sep. 8th in limited numbers through Nike online and at top-tier accounts, the “Cardo” colorway sets the tone for the next track.
“It takes a mind to put all those together”
Growing up in Winston-Salem, Patrick Douthit moved to the same sound of bouncing basketballs and thumping beats as Kevin Durant did in the DMV. While KD went on to go pro in hoops, PD, better known as 9th Wonder, made a name for himself in music.
Working with the likes of Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Wale, and more, 9th’s love of loops and soulful songs has set the tone for legends and paved the path for new talent. Even away from the studio, this same sentiment is expressed in his everyday life, ranging from lecturing students at Duke to organizing AAU outings for his Carolina Dream program.
Funding women’s sports and having a homegrown love of hoops inspires 9th’s nuanced KD15. An homage to the “Infrared” Air Jordan 6 appears by way of the stacked sole, seen by the contrast of icy accents and hot hues. Veering left, a nod to 9th’s Serena Williams fandom fetches inspiration from her infamous asymmetric catsuit as illustrated on the mismatched lining.
Thematic tongue branding says it all for those feeling this smooth yet roaring rendition. It also proves unflinching in not pandering toward pop appeal.
“It’s just like fashion,” 9th Wonder said. “It takes a mind to put all those together. If you don’t know how to dress it up then don’t wear it.”
While fans can find 9th Wonder walking the halls of Harvard or digging through the crates at the same record stores he grew up in, they’ll only find his KD collab on Sept. 15th at Nike and very select retailers.
“They’ve helped shape music for me since I’ve been in the league”
When the Seattle Supersonics selected Kevin Durant with the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Texas product worked tirelessly to prove himself in his first NBA season.
Miles away in Ontario, a then little-known producer by the name of Boi-1da was working tirelessly, aiming to prove his potential on Comeback Season, the second mixtape for a Toronto rapper known as Drake.
While Kevin was honing his handles in the gym, Boi-1da was perfecting production on FL Studio. By 2009, the Canadian creative released his first certified smash: Drake’s breakthrough single, “Best I Ever Had.” By 2010, KD has his first scoring title, establishing himself as an All-Star for years to come.
Parallel in their path, the Nike KD15 “Boi-1da” drafts off the tones and textures associated with FL Studio, completing the “Producer Pack” by paying tribute to the Toronto titan’s tools of the trade.
Just as Boi-1da’s done records ranging from Rihanna’s “Work” to Champagne Papi’s toughest time stamp showcases, the entire “Producer Pack” aligns artists associated with range and longevity.
Both are characteristics Kevin carries coming into his 15th season.
“They’re all versatile artists that work with the biggest artists in the game across genres,” KD notes. “They understand what it’s like to be in different rooms and connect with different people. They’ve helped shape music for me since I’ve been in the league.”
Look for the “Boi-1da” Nike KD15 to close out the first “Producer Pack,” releasing on Sept. 22nd online at Nike and at select stores.
For those that dissect lyrics, Kevin alluded to the “Producer Pack” back in April as the KD15 first arrived.
“Music, art, and basketball, to me, I feel like it’s all the same art form,” Durant told Boardroom’s Nick DePaula. “[On the] last shoe, I did a lot of art stuff. On this shoe, we’re doing more with music and trying to combine the three. It’s something that resonates with me and I try to incorporate it in my shoe.”
Since the unveiling, Durant’s been hard at work in the gym, and the KD15 has been with him every step of the way.
“They feel amazing,” KD beamed. “I really feel like this is the one.”
Electing for a lower cut, Durant dug in the crates himself when working Nike designer Ben Nethongkome on the KD15. The update references previous pairs like the KD3, KD4, and KD6, for a lower-profile feel and fit.
Additionally, he somewhat sampled a classic, calling on a style that performance purists still consider a holy grail.
“I know you remember the low top joints that Luke Ridnour and Steve Nash used to wear, the Jet Flights,” Kevin noted to DePaula.
“That was one of the first shoes that I [saw] as a basketball player coming up that was super low and looked almost like a trainer. That was interesting to me and I wanted to bring that feeling back.”
While retro flavor inspires the KD15 in cut, music still moves him day-to-day.
“Music plays a role in everybody’s life. We’ve got soundtracks to everything. Obviously, I listen to stuff before I play, but when I’m in the house? I’m listening to music. I’m playing games and listening to music. I wanted to show some love and pay some homage to the ones that inspired me along the way, but also build bonds with them.
“It’s the perfect timing.”
The “Producer Pack” is both a testament to the friendships he’s built with Cardo, 9th Wonder, and Boi-1da and a game-recognize-game nod to their corresponding crafts.
“These guys have platinum records and have made songs with underground artists and the biggest in the world. You could say our careers mirror each other. I try to be versatile on the court and they try to do the same thing with music.”
As Brooklyn begins its 2022-23 campaign in Barclays, will we see the very rare “Producer Pack” on his feet in NBA action?
“For sure,” KD answers. “You’ll probably see those three [producers] courtside sometime this year representing.”
While this year’s “Producer Pack” proves a first, it’s unlikely the last.
“I want to keep it going,” Durant closes. “I want this to be a franchise within the KD line. We’ll see who we get next.”