NBA Scouts Were So Weird About Kevin Durant’s Bench Press At ’07 Combine

NBA Scouts Were So Weird About Kevin Durant’s Bench Press At ’07 Combine
  • Tanya Ray Fox

You know that “those who can’t do” saying? Apparently it hasn’t exactly caught on amidst NBA scouts, or at least it hadn’t back when Kevin Durant was working out at the NBA Combine prior to the 2007 draft.

The Golden State Warriors forward recently told ESPN a bizarre story about being harassed at the pre-draft workouts because he had a weak bench press.

Via ESPN.com:

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Durant said, as he adjusted his body to get comfortable in his seat. “All the strength coaches were laughing at me and s—. They were giggling with each other that I couldn’t lift 185 pounds, and I was like, ‘All right, keep laughing. Keep laughing.’ It was a funny thing, because I was the only one that couldn’t lift it and I was struggling to lift it. I was embarrassed at that point, but I’m like, ‘Give me a basketball, please. Give me a ball.'”

A basketball player wanted to play basketball rather than lay there getting ostracized for being unable to complete a skill that has literally nothing to do with basketball. Imagine that?!

Now 28-years-old and a veteran superstar, the former NBA MVP and 8x All-Star who was passed up as the No. 1 overall pick in favor of big, strong Greg Oden – whose body immediately began falling apart  -has some advice for top draft prospects.

“Stay your ass home, work out and get better on your own time,” Durant suggested.

Via ESPN.com:

“I knew nobody in that draft could guard me one-on-one,” Durant said. “I knew that for sure. I knew that. And I knew that you don’t need to [bench-press] to lift a basketball up. And I knew that this wasn’t football, where that stuff matters. I knew as a basketball player I had a lot of skill, more skill than anybody in the draft. And I knew that if I worked as hard as I could, then that s— wouldn’t matter at the end of the day. It still doesn’t matter. I was ranked the last person in camp, drills-wise. I was the worst player, and the first player didn’t get drafted. That tells you a lot about the significance of that s—.”

That’s actually incredibly insightful. The fact that the best performer at the combine didn’t even get drafted and the worst performer has been one of the best players in the NBA for the last decade is not a ringing endorsement for the system they have in place.

Durant also told ESPN that he’s sure he could bench press 185 now (you know, since now he’s a full grown man) but that he’s not trying to do that because there’s literally no point.

“I haven’t tried. I know I can lift 185, though, now, but I don’t bench-press,” Durant said. “I don’t try to do max on the bench press.”

However Durant did point out that the Combine could be useful for players who are not top prospects like Lonzo Ball, but are looking to get noticed. He also exhibited more of his signature self-awareness in assessing his physical strengths and weakness as it stands today.

“I’m getting that now as an older player and I realize that, but it’s about flexibility with me, because I’m never going to be strong.”

It’s absurd to think that a guy that was as purely and naturally talented at the sport of basketball as Kevin Durant was during his one year at Texas would ever have to prove himself in the weight room like that. Hopefully his success in the wake of that weird criticism has changed the way scouts approach similar situations 10-years later.

Tanya Ray Fox

Tanya Ray Fox is a sportswriter and producer who has worked for nearly 7 years in both digital and television sports media. She has previously worked in TV production experience for Comcast SportsNet New England, NFL Network and Time Warner Cable Sports. In addition to her work for SportsGrid and appearances on the affiliated FNTSY Sports Network, she is also a contributor for USA Today's Rams Wire.