Trying To Read The KD Tea Leaves Is Fruitless
By Randy Renner
Funny how things work out sometimes.
A lot of folks, especially in the national media, figured Kevin Durant would sign a huge new endorsement deal with Under Armour.
The reasoning mostly was, it was a huge offer and Under Armour is based in Maryland, just down the road from KD's home town of Seat Pleasant.
And since LeBron James had decided to go back to his Ohio roots and sign a new deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in just stood to reason that Durant would abandon Nike as that contract ended and sign on with Under Armour as a precursor to then leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for his hometown Washington Wizards.
It all just seemed to fit so easily.
Except for the fact that it didn't.
Like most kids growing up when Durant was a teenager, and still today for that matter, the Nike swoosh meant and means something special.
Durant was eager to sign on with the swoosh folks his rookie year in the NBA and probably hoped all along to re-up with them.
Their initial offer was reported to be about $20 million per season. The Under Armour trumped that with a massive 10 year, $265-$285 million package.
Under Armour also offered Durant the chance to be THE face of the company. He would have been by far the biggest basketball star the company had ever signed.
With Nike Durant would be lumped in with Lebron and Kobe Bryant and others.
But the swoosh folks swooped in and stepped up their offer, some reports have indicated it will end up being worth more than what UA put on the table, a possible $300 million over the next 10 years.
Durant's KD brand accounted for $175 million in sales for Nike last season and with Durant now the reining MVP who will have another decent shot at winning a championship with his Thunder teammates this season, those sales numbers figure to go much higher.
So in the end the money numbers were fairly close but KD's loyalty to the company that signed him originally trumped the hometown draw of Under Armour and the chance to be the top dog in their group.
Will that loyalty extend to the Thunder when Durant's basketball contract runs out and he becomes the most sought after free agent in 2016?
Who knows, I don't think one has anything to do with the other and I never have.
If Durant had left Nike and signed with UA, I didn't think that would mean he would also leave the Thunder for the Wizards or any other team. And I don't think his re-signing with the swoosh means he is more likely to re-sign with OKC.
Loyalty though will indeed play a major role. The partnership so far between the Thunder, Durant and Oklahoma City has been mutually beneficial.
Money isn't really going to matter. The Thunder will be able to offer a little more than any other team because of the way the NBA's rules are written but there will be no out of control bidding process like there can be in Major League Baseball.
So you figure it will come down to loyalty to the organization that drafted him and to his teammates versus where he thinks he'll have the best chance to win a championship. Hopefully, Durant figures Oklahoma City is the best of both of those worlds.
Winning a championship this season and or next season would certainly help to cement that belief.
But right now, still some 22 months away from when a decision will be due, trying to predict the future based on what's just happened is a ridiculous task.