“I wanted to create an atmosphere for him that he felt comfortable and confident in, so that he could grow into it as we went, and I think that went really well,” said Mr. Whitesell, who remembered his only other experience filming athletes coming on a cameo appearance by Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson on the short-lived NBC show “Tattingers.”
“It’s like, to this day, my biggest accomplishment in basketball. He was really guarding me and had blocked like the last three shots and I was just running around throwing up hook shots and anything I could, and one fell in,” said Mr. Gray, who hopes the film will help him land roles in future movies.
Durant has said he doesn’t see himself doing any more feature-length movies because of the demands on his time. Mr. Whitesell put it this way: He doesn’t think Durant will do another movie at least until he wins a championship.
“This is a guy who everybody wants a piece of him right now and he’s got a lot on his plate. But I know from when we were there what he cares about. He cares about basketball,” Mr. Whitesell said. “He wants to win a championship, he wants to do the best he can possibly do at that, and he’s just blossoming.”
Already, Durant has accomplished one goal by winning gold in London alongside James, Kobe Bryant and other NBA stars. He said he didn’t get much ribbing about being a movie star, although a couple of his Olympic teammates did ask about it.
He planned to send a text message to them all after getting to see the movie for the first time.
“Hopefully they’ll take their kids to see it, and hopefully they enjoy it,” Durant said. “Those guys, man, they’re unbelievable. They support everything. Those guys are really good teammates. I was blessed that I got that opportunity to be around such great players but such humble guys as well.”