[kickstarter url=http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/281226336/the-backpack-baller width=600]
Cash Ask: $35,000
Concept: A colorful, graphic-heavy, coffee table book chronicling the life of Kevin Durant, from his early life to his undeniably superb NBA career. The book claims to be a “magnum opus” that takes a “forensic and satellite view” on Durant’s on-court conquests and off-court “challenges”.
Creator: Brad Graham, who is the former editor-in-chief of Australian magazine Handle and current publisher of online basketball mag Buckets. He’s also a graphic designer. Clearly an all-around basketball-loving media guy.
Worth funding? Mostly yes. From the images shown, it’s obvious Graham has a flair for design— it’s a very good-looking book. And according to interviews given, Graham got access to not just Durant, but also guys within the Thunder organization and even LeBron James. So the book should, in theory, offer insider insight into the life of Durant and, possibly, the workings of the NBA. But, from the way Graham describes Durant’s accomplishments in the above video and on the book’s Twitter account, one can’t help but get the feeling that he is a really, really, really big fan of KD, so much so that this book will be a fluff piece that plays up Durant's accomplishments and exaggerates his obstacles.
For example, in the video, Graham says he got the idea for the book when he realized Durant had achieved “three separate basketball masterpieces”: He was the first freshman to win National Player of the Year in college, he became the youngest winner of the NBA scoring title, and he “rewrote all the rules for offseason NBA activity" before leading the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals.
While being the first college freshman to win National Player of the Year is a great honor, it’s a feat that has since been repeated by Anthony Davis, and with elite basketball talent no longer staying in college for more than one year, it’s likely that more freshman will win the award. The NBA scoring title at age 21 is impressive, even if Durant had a little help. But the third “masterpiece” is huh? How did Durant rewrite all the rules for how NBA players go about their offseason? What does that even mean?
Make no mistake: Durant is the second-best player in the world right now and, barring injury, is on pace to be an all-time great. But it’s nevertheless peculiar to have a book that gushes over his career and existence when Durant is still just 25, with only six NBA seasons under his belt. Derrick Rose winning MVP in his third season (also a "youngest ever" accomplishment) is arguably a bigger “basketball masterpiece” than winning the scoring title or “rewriting NBA offseason activity”. If Durant stays the course, he's going to do a lot of winning and have many books written about him in the latter stages of his career. Though I'm sure Backpack Baller will be an interesting read, especially considering the access, right now it simply feels premature.
Also, the epilogue of the book refers to Durant as the "Ryan Gosling of Basketball".
Suggested pledge: If you're a basketball and / or graphic design fan, $14 will get you a digital copy of the book; it's worth it just to learn the context of that "Ryan Gosling of Basketball" title. If you're a Kevin Durant fan, $35 will get you an individually-numbered hardcover copy of the book. If you're Kevin Durant, $35,000 will ensure the publication of what is certain to be the nicest, prettiest thing ever produced about you.