(CBS)– NBA superstar Kevin Durant is one of the top basketball players in the world, but he wasn’t always considered the best during his youth basketball days. KD’s youth hoops experience was the inspiration for a new TV show from AppleTV+ called “Swagger,” which is produced by CBS Studios. Durant is an executive producer on the series that explores the world of youth basketball and the players, their families and the coaches.
The series is written, executive produced and directed by NAACP Image Award Winner Reggie Rock Bythewood. CBS’ DJ Sixsmith spoke with Bythewood about turning Durant’s AAU basketball experience into a TV show, why he wanted this series to hold a mirror up to society and how he was able to make the basketball look authentic on the show.
“It’s been really amazing. It really came together because Kevin Durant and Brian Grazer, who are two executive producers on the show along me and Rich Kleiman, had a meeting to do a show on KD’s youth basketball days,” said Bythewood. “There is sort of a whole world of grassroots basketball with 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds and high school aged players and our show centers on these 14-year-old youth players. I met with KD and really thought it would be this great canvas to tell a narrative that is really about growing up in the world of basketball, but even more importantly growing up in America.”
The series features stars like O’Shea Jackson & Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis and a rising star in Isaiah R. Hill. The season one finale of the show drops this Friday, December 17 on AppleTV+ and Bythewood hopes the show allows people to understand what kids really experience when they play basketball at a high level on the youth circuit.
“At the end of the day, we forget that they are kids,” said Bythewood. “One of the things that we look to do in Swagger is to give a view from every seat in the house. We have the point of view from the youth player, from the parent, from the coach and even from the sneaker companies that are really drawn to these future NBA stars. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is allow your kid the opportunity to fail, but it’s okay as long as they get up off the floor and as long as we all pick ourselves up. It was interesting because KD at 14 wasn’t this undeniable future NBA star. He had to really prove himself. This is not a biopic and I really use KD’s story as a launching pad to tell this contemporary story set in 2020. It’s set before COVID and Breonna Taylor and so many of the things that happened in 2020. We just carried on the narrative and bring in COVID and all this social unrest and really how it has shaped their lives. It allowed us to hold up a mirror to society and really bring that narrative into our story.”
“Swagger” is streaming now on AppleTV+.