Kevin Durant provided all of the requisite fireworks this 4th of July when he exercised his independence as a free agent and authored a new chapter with the Golden State Warriors. On court,the pairing of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant appears to fit like a glove, however there are definitely questions, and if you’re Under Armour, some concerns with Nike’s second biggest athlete sharing a roster and a market with their signature star. Durant choosing the Bay area had to be the most favourable outcome for Nike and here’s why:
Winning matters for brands.
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James are some of Nike’s most successful spokesmen and they all have one thing in common – winning multiple NBA championships. The formula is simple: Wear our products and you too, can be a champion. Durant’s decision was 100% based upon winning and it is a lot easier for Nike to market Durant as a champion, than the position he maligns – second place. Teaming Durant with three All-NBA players puts him in a position to own June for years to come, which gives him, and his KD’s, maximum visibility.
Change is good.
Nike’s top two hoop ambassadors have done very well for themselves despite playing in the smaller markets of Cleveland and Oklahoma City. James and Durant have been able to succeed due to the proliferation of social media, League Pass and the digital age which make these stars more accessible. Despite big picture success, Durant’s line in particular has hit some turbulence the last couple of years. Injuries derailed the KD7’s, a model he rarely wore even when he was healthy, and the KD8’s were priced higher than that of its predecessors. With the recent release of the KD9, and a host of potential new colourways to match his new uniform, this might provide the KD line the boost that it needs, especially if it’s priced competitively against Under Armour’s Curry line of shoes.
It Slows Down Steph.
It’s been proven that somebody has to sacrifice when super teams are formed, and this shouldn’t be too difficult for a Warriors team whose motto is “Strength in Numbers.” However sacrificing stardom in the sneaker world is a whole different story than it is on the hardwood. One of the reasons athletes are more willing to sacrifice on their NBA contracts to win rings, is because of the off court endorsement money. The amount players earn on their shoe deal is directly correlated to their level of superstardom, because sneakers are ultimately sold by superstars. Durant’s presence will very likely diminish the star of the back-to-back MVP and Under Armour’s biggest asset, Stephen Curry. While it’s true that KD will also have to share the spotlight, he has already proven he can back in OKC with Russell Westbrook. Under Armour’s success has directly been tied to the meteoric rise of Curry, whereas Nike has a healthy roster of stars carrying the load. UA would do well to continue their aggressive search for another marquee ambassador, so that their eggs do not all remain in one basket.