ESPN’s Darren Rovell and Marc Stein broke the news that Nike has matched Under Armour’s deal with Kevin Durant, and Durant will continue with Nike. The exact numbers of the Nike deal are not known but the Under Armour deal is said to have been worth between $265- $285 million. The sheer numbers of the deal astound normal people, but in the big scheme of things, it isn’t that much when you consider the amount of money that Kevin Durant is generating.
According to Forbes, in 2013 sales of Durant’s sneakers spiked 400% to reach $175 million compared to $35 million in 2012. Numbers like that make $30 million a year seem like a bargain. Durant’s star is on the rise, so it was an easy decision to lock up the NBA’s second most marketable player for the next 10 years, especially considering that Durant took less money to sign with Nike as a rookie. Plus after the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion, everything associated with the NBA is being over valued.
The only problem with the deal is the perception that sneaker companies have too much control over athletes. Is there any doubt that this negotiation is the reason that Durant left USA Basketball training camp? People are going to question to whom Durant is loyal, since he makes more from sneakers than he does playing basketball. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, who represents Durant, is risking Durant’s career in order to further their own.
Roc Nation is still a new agency, so they are trying to get a reputation. Therefore they want other players to see how much money they are getting for Kevin Durant. The problem is that when people know how much money that you are getting they may feel different about you. When the deal became public it prompted people to question Durant’s worth. Lebron James doesn’t broadcast all the money he makes, and Durant shouldn’t either. The foundation of Durant’s image is based on being a nice guy, so it will be interesting to see how this affects it.