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NaVorro Bowman on 2016, his knee, and reuniting with Kevin Durant

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The linebacker talked about his basketball skills, working with the kids, how his knee feels.

In between all of the drill and games at the NaVorro Bowman ProCamp, the linebacker took a little time to address the media. He discussed many topics including his classmate Kevin Durant joining him in the Bay Area as well as the new 49ers coaching staff.

Here’s the full transcript:

What does this camp mean to you and how long have you been doing this?

I’ve been doing it for about 7 years, since I’ve been in the NFL. I do a camp back at home on the East Coast for my community. It’s a great thing to see the kids come out and get to see that I’m a real person and get to see that I wake up just like they do and put the work in and that’s how to make it in the long run. They kind of see things on TV and it makes it look not real sometimes. It’s always good to come out and let the kids touch you and hear your voice and see how you’ve made it and the things they have to do to get to that level.

It’s putting a face to this thing they see all the time?

Exactly. They play a lot of video games and you see these type of ratings and things like that and they may think you’re not human. It’s always good for them to see that it’s possible to reach their goals and strive to be whatever they want to be in life.

You went to camps when you were younger, what’s the best feeling coming out of a camp?

The best feeling is that there’s some kids out there that are really competing and that want to be known and seen and that’s what you want. You want kids to come out and just compete and get these wise words from me and these coaches out here to just keep pushing them after today. That’s what it’s about, just coming out and giving them that extra leap to let them know that they’re on the right path, that they have it, what they need to strive to what they want to get to. It’s just a great thing to see the turn out that we have today, the parents here to support their kids, and allowing them to play the game of football.

What’s one of the funnier things that the kids have said to you?

We haven’t gotten to that yet. They’ve been focused trying to show me their skills, but we’re going to do something in about an hour and I’m sure they’ll have some crazy questions to ask and I’ll give them the answers that they want but it’s always good to just hear the things that are on their minds.

How excited are you that Kevin Durant is in the Bay Area, you played with him in middle school?

I did. We are very good friends. I’ve known him and his family basically my whole life and I kinda knew he was coming to the Bay before you guys did but I couldn’t let it out. It’s just good to have another home town guy in here in the Bay, just a having that drive that we’ve had so long growing up where we’re from, so it will definitely help the Warriors out.

He said you were his sidekick ...

You know, I was pretty good. I was a gym rat and when it came to basketball I spent my days of elementary, middle school and some high school days playing basketball. My high school coach didn’t allow us to play basketball in high school, and he caught me one day and made me bear crawl the whole field with a basketball on my back, so I never touched a basketball ever again at my high school. That’s when the turn happened and I chose football. It turned out to be a great thing.

Are you going to be recruiting him to see 49ers games?

He’s definitely going to come and support his friend and I’ll do the same and like I said, It’s a great thing to have him out here.

A lot of these kids look up to you as a role model. Who did you look up to at that age?

At that age, me wanting to be a basketball player and a football player, I kind of had two guys who were good. I looked up to Ray Lewis, seeing him on the east coast playing for the Baltimore Ravens and being a Lakers fan, I don’t know how that happened, I was always a Kobe fan growing up. Just grabbing those two type of player’s attitude and mindset, they way they played the game and the heart that they went out there with, I think that that’s still in me to this day. Just trying to go out there, trying to give it my all and play the best that I can play.

How excited are you for the new season?

I’m excited man, it’s a new team, new coaches, new scheme. Guys are excited to get back out there. We’ve had about 30 days off and guys have been enjoying the summer but it’s about what’s coming up and I’m excited just to put the helmet and shoulder pads back on and get back after it.

Chip Kelly’s offense is always recognized, what about his defense?

Having played well over the years, defenses kind of cater to me a little bit as we get new coaches in and things like that. So I love it, it allows me to go out there and make the plays that I’m able to make, and as long as the big guys up front do their job, NaVorro will always be happy. I think we have great group of guys in front of me this year, ready to go.

How’s the knee feeling after a full season?

It’s feeling great, man. It’s not on my mind as much as last year and that’s the main thing. I’ve had so much hearsay and naysayers, and that chip is just building higher and higher on my shoulder just to prove how dedicated I am to this game and how good I really am. Best believe I’m focused this year and ready to be at the level I was at before the injury and try to lead the league in tackles again.

Who has more fun out here today, you or the kids?

I think I do! Just to give them that sense of being an NFL player I’m having as much fun as they are. Hopefully they take away what I’m trying to give to them “Hard work is the way to do it” and as long as they listen to their coaches and their parents, they’ll be on the right path.

How do you feel about the emphasis on getting a ring?

I think the ring comes when you have the right team and the right coaches. So many parts play into making it to the Super Bowl, and winning it. When you look at players single handedly you can't say that they didn’t play their hardest or play for the ring. Every player out there is risking their bodies and their lives and that’s the respect we want to receive back from the outside. The ring is the goal but I’ve been playing in the league 7 years and I know about 10 people that have never been to the playoffs, never even experienced a Super Bowl, so you can’t bank on that, you just try to have the best career you can have and try to leave the game healthy.

One on one, you against Kevin Durant, 11s, how many points do you get off him?

You know, I’m a little stronger than Kevin, so if I drive to the basket and kind of use my forearms and things like that, I might get a few buckets, but I don’t know man, he’s a heck of a shooter and I don’t think I’d be able to stop that. So, one on one on the court, outside the paint, he’ll probably win that but if we had about 10 dribbles to the rim, I think I’d get him.