Kevin Durant meets Bollywood actor on first day in India

Editor's note:Golden State WarriorsforwardKevin Durant, the 2017NBA Finals MVP,is spending part of his offseason by making his first visit to India, where he'll donate two basketball courts, host a clinic with local prospects, and visit the Taj Mahal.Follow along here as it all unfolds.


NEW DELHI -- The buildup is excruciating. "We can't tell you where he's staying," say his PR people. But we have our ways and means of figuring out where Kevin Durant will be checking in here Thursday afternoon. He's due to land at 12:45 p.m. local time, and given his VIP status, it shouldn't take him more than an hour to negotiate immigration, fans and Delhi's midmorning traffic to reach his hotel.

Normally, VIP entries at Indian five-star hotels are marked by high ceremony. But this is almost imperceptible -- a whoosh, if you will, of KD 10 stealth and speed (for the uninitiated, the KD 10 is Durant's signature Nike sneaker). The only way you know the big man is in the house is because he stands, literally, head and shoulders above everyone else. Otherwise, in his T-shirt, red shorts and Vans sneakers, he could be any other college kid walking in. Except, of course, he's immense, so large that his backpack hangs around his shoulder blades.

There's a brief welcoming ceremony (he barely breaks stride), and before I can identify the tattoos on his left leg, he's whisked off to the elevators and up to the posh floor.

I'd waited 90 minutes; this took all of 90 seconds. Never mind, there's the red carpet at the Bollywood party in a few hours. That'll make up for it.

Several hours later, a colleague and I find ourselves at the ITC Maurya hotel. The schedule that was circulated said the party would be at "approximately 6:45 p.m." That seems optimistic; at the appointed time, the only thing that's ready is a life-size basketball rim and net on a pole that's 6 feet, 9 inches high. And it's made entirely of chocolate. (We took the hotel's word for it; we weren't allowed a sampling.)

But that's inside. The red carpet is outside, in the muggy heat of monsoon Delhi. We take our spots in the media scrum and stand and wait. We know what to expect. This is Delhi, where being on time is infra dig. These are Bollywood celebrities, who follow the same code, and there's a jet-lagged superstar in the mix, too. There's no way this is happening anywhere close to on time.

So we pass the time trying to identify the B-listers who, poor souls, are reasonably punctual; Vijay Amritraj -- tennis player, actor and commentator -- comes along dapper as usual in his jacket and offers his thoughts in his trademark clipped tones.

That takes the edge off things, but as the wait goes on the assembled TV cameramen, never known to mince words, make their feelings known. Someone organizes tea -- there's always tea in an Indian waiting situation, but not the delicate British cuppa; our tea comes in a large polythene bag and is poured into paper cups. The mood improves again.

And then someone spots Abhishek Bachchan, a Bollywood actor who is more famous as the son of Amitabh Bachchan, aka the Big B, the most famous Indian actor alive. Junior B has beefed up his CV by investing in sporting franchises, and he has stakes in a football (soccer) team and in the Indian sport of kabaddi. Could basketball -- he's a Lakers fan -- be in the cards?

That's for another day. Today, he's the host, and his emergence into the humid evening can only mean KD is on the way. Sure enough, the SUVs glide in and nearly 7 feet of Kevin Durant (the 6-foot-9 superstar is wearing shoes) unfurls.

Junior B and KD embrace and mug it for the cameras. The plan is for KD to say something, anything, but he's not to be second-guessed and moves away. Junior B plays the good host and speaks. It's 9 p.m. and it's been a long day. Tomorrow will be longer, but there's the promise of a possible Guinness World Records entry for the most youth attenders at a basketball clinic. And the chance to hear KD speak. Hope springs eternal.
Jonathan Selvaraj contributed to the reporting of this story.

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