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Having gone from good guy to villain Kevin Durant wanted the opportunity to tell his story on his own terms.

 

After 10 years of play with the same NBA team, Kevin Durant had earned all-star berths, a league MVP title and pretty much any accolade you can think of, except one. So he made a difficult decision to leave the OKC Thunder and join a new squad, the already impressive Golden State Warriors. In the early months of his time with the Warriors, it became clear that KD’s style and skill-set meshed well with this fun, fast, free-flowing team and that elusive championship ring began to look like a possibility.

But he was also battling a perception problem. After being the “good guy” for his whole career, his decision to leave OKC made him a villain in the eyes of many. The seed for this project was planted when KD shut down his social media feeds to wholly focus on winning a championship, and started looking for an authentic way to tell the personal story of his journey.

 

Making the Film

Tired of the crush of outside voices seeking to define him, KD set the parameters for the project. The goal: create a film that would address the issues head on. Broadcast the final product to the public free of charge through his own YouTube channel, and let the chips fall.

KD reached out to Nike Basketball looking for help to tell the story—and through Nike assembled a team that included agency Must Be Something, production company Avocados and Coconuts, and director Brandon Loper. KD then opened his world up to the team and allowed unlimited access into his life, his family, his home and his game, so that fans and haters alike could see the world the way he saw it. And in doing so, see the truth in his journey.

This was the first time Nike – and perhaps any a major sports brand  – invested in a long form documentary before knowing the final outcome. The unprecedented access and cooperation allowed us to go beyond the story you’d normally get on ESPN and talk radio. Basketball-obsessed teens crave that inside scoop – that insight into what makes their heroes tick – and we wanted to find a way to deliver just that.

Practically speaking, a seamless partnership between Nike Basketball, the agency, and the production company is what made the project achievable and you can feel the spirit of open collaboration in the film.

But this collaboration was entirely unconventional. The challenges presented by inserting a documentary production into the intense reality of the NBA playoffs are daunting and required a nimble, fluid approach. There was no way to know the final outcome and there were no “scripts” or story lines. These things were certainly discussed, but this was first and foremost KD’s story, and at every juncture it was up to him to show us the way.

We didn’t sit down for an interview after all the noise, the haters, and the lights were off—the story was captured in real time. By setting up an edit studio inside KD’s house and following him daily, we were able to explore the work and the worry behind the cool exterior. And by the end, fans come away even more impressed with the poise and composure of this amazing young man.

Every film needs a story—a journey from “here” to “there” where the stakes are high, the tension builds and the outcome is in doubt. For KD, it was his journey from beloved to doubted, from injury to recovery, and ultimately all the way to the redemption of an NBA title.

The film debuted shortly after the Warriors won the championship, receiving over 1 million views in it's first week, and more than 2 million views to date.

 

 

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This was the first time Nike - and perhaps any major sports brand – invested in a long form documentary before knowing the final outcome.