LAS VEGAS -- Most NBA players take naps before every game, they eat a meal perhaps high in protein and carbohydrates, and they almost certainly put on headphones and listen to Lil Wayne or Metallica or something else upbeat while mentally preparing in the locker room.
Kevin Durant has another pregame ritual: He plays a marathon game of “NBA 2K” with his brother.
“We play a game of ‘2K’ before every game,” Durant says at a “NBA 2K13” commercial shoot in Las Vegas. “Every single game.”
For as long as Durant can remember, he's been using video games as a way to clear his mind.
“We do this little fantasy thing, where the computer drafts all the players for us before every game we play," he said. "It drafts from every team, so one of us might have LeBron, or Steph Curry, or just random players from random teams. And we play like that, 12 minutes per quarter.”
Durant, who's on the cover of "2K13" with Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, sat down with ESPN Playbook to talk about his gaming habits, his burgeoning acting career and his current place in the sports landscape.
ESPN Playbook: What’s it like to see yourself on the cover of “NBA 2K13,” the highest-selling basketball game in the world?
Kevin Durant: Everything just goes back to being blessed and working hard. Everything goes back to that. “2K,” like you said, is the greatest basketball game on the planet and something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time. I just kept getting pushed to the side, you know what I mean? And finally I got a chance to be on the cover. I’m excited. All of my friends and family play the game, so every time I go to somebody’s house, I’ll see my face on the cover. That’s going to be really cool. Video games have been a big part of my life for a long time. Me and my brother have been having competitions in video games ever since we were young. It’s going to be cool just to see myself on the cover.
How often do you play “2K” now?
Every day. It was just cool to see myself in the game. All of this stuff is just so surreal.
Do you ever take a step back and realize where you are in your career?
Yes. All the time. I didn’t think I would be here growing up. But I’ve been working so hard ever since I was a kid so that I would have all this stuff come. And it’s come so quickly. It’s just crazy. I’m just blessed to be here. I just have to keep working and keep improving.
When you play “2K,” who’s the best player in the game? Who do you most like to play with?
Hmm… Oh, man.
You can say yourself if you want.
No, my favorite player is probably Derrick Rose. He’s unstoppable. He’s athletic, he can shoot it, and everything he does in real life is like tenfold on the game. But it’s fun to play as myself, though; I can’t lie. Every shot is my shot. I don’t pass.
It’s a video game, after all.
“2K” is something I do every single day. Practice, games, I just come home and play the game. After a real game I come home and play “2K.”
It sounds like you and your brother are some hard-core video game geeks.
That’s all we do, man. It’s fun. It’s competitive. We’ll be up yelling and screaming in the house. I’ve broken plenty of controllers before, just throwing them in the water or at the wall when I lose. It’s fun; it’s a big part of my life.
You’re making your movie debut coming up soon. You have an interest in rap and things like that. People see you as sort of a quiet, humble guy. Do you think sometimes people mistake that humbleness for shyness?
Yeah. That’s how people see me. They see me on the basketball court and doing interviews about basketball and stuff like that, but I have other hobbies. I’ve gotten into other things, like music, and I’ve done a movie. I’m just going out there and enjoying myself, to be honest. I’m not worried about what people say or how they think. I’m just enjoying myself, man. And those are some of the things I enjoy doing.
Do you see yourself as a cross-market star, as far as doing these other things, like Shaq and Dwight Howard and some of those guys?
I never really looked at myself as a marketable star. I’m just a basketball player, first off. That’s what I do. That’s what I love to do. The marketing and all that stuff comes second to basketball. That’s all I worry about. But I can do other things, and if I can do it, I will. But basketball always comes first.
Do you have to turn down a lot of opportunities?
Yeah, some stuff I just don’t want to do. And then there’s some stuff time doesn’t allow me to do. I look at everything and kind of analyze it and see if it’d be cool for me to do. Sometimes I just want to chill and relax. But like I said, I’m always working on basketball, and everything else comes after that.