Triple Olympic Gold Medallist Kevin Durant Says His College Days Were The Key To Success

Kevin Durant is a two-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA championship winner and triple Olympic Gold Medal winner and an 11-time NBA All-Star. He says that his college days helped make him who he was, and that he’s still part of the Longhorn family.

RSNG caught up with him to ask about winning three golds in a row, and what advice he has for those looking to emulate his success...

RSNG What’s it like to win an Olympic gold medal? KEVIN DURANT, LONGHORN LEGEND AND NBA STALWART “It’s such a great feeling and I’m lucky to have experienced that on more than one occasion, now. The good thing is that you’re playing alongside guys who you will more than likely be fighting against during the regular NBA season.”

“But we put those rivalries aside and stand together for the good of our nation, which is the most important thing.”

RSNG The first gold you won was back in 2012 in London and at that time, you were one of the up-and-coming superstars in the NBA. How did that feel playing with established stars? KEVIN DURANT “It was a privilege and an honor, but also you have to make sure that your contribution is there, because you’ve been selected for a reason. At that time, I was at Oklahoma (City Thunder) and I was so thankful to be playing with a great group of guys there.”

“Although we didn’t reach the heights that maybe we should have or fulfilled our potential as a team, it really helped me as an individual to understand how my game fits in with a team and what it takes to win an NBA championship.”

“Playing with guys such as LeBron [James], Kobe [Bryant] - God rest his soul – and so many other great individuals, certainly made sure I got the best out of myself.”

RSNG Three golds in a row… but was that ever in doubt after losing to Nigeria and Australia before you flew to Tokyo? KEVIN DURANT “Well, we were still figuring out how to play with each other while these games were going on. It’s okay being able to sort things out in practice, but you’ve got total control of what’s happening there.”

“When you then start playing matches against other teams who aren’t there to help you out, they don’t care about that for one secondly and rightly so. They are throwing up all kinds of problems for you and you’re trying to deal with those whilst also attempting to deal with your own, in real-time! It’s an interesting challenge.”

“We weren’t hugely worried about things, we knew what it was going to take and we knew that it was a work in progress which we would eventually sort out. You’ve also got to remember that although we hate losing and nobody likes to lose, the sole object wasn’t to win in those games, it was to make sure we were ready for Tokyo when it counted.”

RSNG They also played some great basketball, didn’t they? KEVIN DURANT “You’ve got to give credit to the teams that beat us because we certainly never let them win! They came out and played very well in their own right and they deserved to beat us.”

“So, it’s always natural that people want to throw criticism and questions our way because although it seems arrogant, it is a shock when we lose to teams that we are expected to beat. But they played with pace and physicality and they weren’t there to see if we were ready, they just threw the punches and landed.”

I’ve had older kids coming up to me and telling me that they’ve been following my whole career – if that doesn’t make me feel old, I don’t know what will

RSNG You’re a former Texas Longhorn and you still go back there from time to time, don’t you? KEVIN DURANT “Yeah, I have stayed in touch with my former team-mates, like Matt Hill who is now assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, A. J. Abrams, who has now also retired from playing, D. J. Augustin who is obviously with the Houston Rockets, Justin Mason.”

“These are all guys who I spent enough time with on the Longhorns roster and we’ve stayed pretty close. It all comes from coach (Rick) Barnes who, right from the first time we all got together, wanted to encourage us that we weren’t just friends, we weren’t just team-mates, but the Texas Longhorns were a family.”

“That means that just because anyone leaves that team, it doesn’t mean that the family breaks-up. If one of your family members decided to move away for work or for a partner or something like that, you wouldn’t consider not to be a member of your family anymore, would you?”

“Well, we are just the same as that. I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

RSNG Jarrett Allen is another former Texas alumni who played with you before he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers? KEVIN DURANT “That’s right and it was good while it lasted and it was almost like I was an older brother – or part of the old Texas guard who was with Coach Barnes. Jarrett played under Shaka Smart, who took over from Coach Barnes and it was interesting for us to speak about the differences between the two eras of the Longhorns.”

‘It helped us to work together and see which of the good parts of each coach’s foundation and teachings we could marry up to make things work for the Nets.”

RSNG Were you like a mentor for Jarrett? KEVIN DURANT “We helped each other in different ways. The craziest thing is that I am even speaking about myself as ‘older,’ haha. Because I don’t feel old or certainly not in the way that the word makes you sound.”

“It’s funny because I’ve been back to Texas a few times to watch them and I’ve had older kids coming up to me and telling me that they’ve been following my whole career [laughs]! If that doesn’t make me feel old, even if I didn’t before, I don’t know what will.”

“It doesn’t feel that long ago that I was playing for Texas myself. But life moves on and my mind is never too far away from where I learned my trade and a place filled with people who helped me become who I am and what I have achieved so far. I’ll never forget my roots.”

The one thing I will always remember is that they were always 100% behind us and that is such an important thing for a player and a team

RSNG Was it regrettable that you couldn’t just make that NBA Championship happen for the great fans and community in Oklahoma? KEVIN DURANT “Man, it’s a hard thing to do winning a championship, with so many great teams, franchises and players in the NBA. But we really tried our best to get at least one for those fans.”

“It was always great playing for those fans and they did really deserve to have a ticker tape parade to celebrate a winning season, but it just wasn’t to be. The one thing I will always remember playing in Oklahoma is that they were always 100% behind us and that is such an important thing for a player and a team.”

“If you know that you’re going to be turning up to work and every game with the total respect of your fans who pay to watch you, and who want to win as much as you do, that’s almost an advantage over your opponents, whoever they may be that night.”

“It’s a shame that we weren’t able to reward those fans during my time there, and I know that when I left, the fans weren’t happy because I left for the franchise we lost to, but I will never forget them.”

RSNG What advice would you have for young people who are looking to be successful? KEVIN DURANT “Everybody is different in their lives and it’s hard for me to just give general advice or guidance or anything like that. It may sound preachy, they may not even want advice from me, they may not like me to begin with or they may have other people who they take their advice from. So, it’s hard to say something which will suit everyone.”

“The only thing I can say really is that you focus on whatever your chosen career is. If you want to play on the court and you want to get to the NBA, you will do whatever it takes to do that.”

“If you want to be a baller, you will be a baller, because people can tell you what they think you should be doing and they think they know, but only you know what is right for you because it’s all inside of you. If you have the talent, you have to have the attitude to match it.”

RSNG It’s about having the right people outside your career to make sure you stay grounded? KEVIN DURANT “Well, yeah. And if your family and friends are there with you, and they are good people, then they will make sure that you are able to concentrate on what you need to concentrate and focus on.”

“The game takes care of itself if you are committed. Everything outside of the game is what you need to get right, or the game won’t be there for you when you turn up late, you turn up and are not ready to be there. Your team-mates will let you know if there’s something up and your coach will.”

“If you don’t like what they have got to say or you’re being defensive and you disagree with them, then you need to sort that stuff out outside of the game. Or, as I say, there won’t be no game for you to play.”

WHAT NEXT? What do NBA players think of Kevin Durant? Watch this to find out...