Kevin Durant had it all, and Under Armour acted accordingly, offering the Thunder star 10 years and $285 million, multiple brand sources told The Vertical. It was an unprecedented offer in the sports marketing world.
There were plans to build a $10 million community center in Washington, D.C., in Durant’s mother’s name. Additional company stock was even incorporated into the offer, the value of which we’ll never know. Durant could’ve single-handedly shifted the trajectory and long-term valuation of the entire company.
Had Under Armour signed Durant, it would have had to endure the partnership’s difficult start. The reigning league MVP played 27 regular-season games in 2014-15 because of a foot fracture, and several marketing executives in the industry told The Vertical that Under Armour would’ve taken the blame for the misfortune. Durant eventually underwent three surgeries in a six-month span to correct a Jones’ fracture in his right foot. “It would have had a huge impact,” a footwear industry consumer insights director told The Vertical. “It would have made what they did with Steph [Curry] look like a fluke.”
“I think it would have been as devastating as Derrick Rose’s ACL injury [in 2012] was to adidas,” one industry marketing source told The Vertical. “Nike has the brand equity to survive injuries to their signature athletes. When injuries happen to star players at competing brands, consumers often assume it’s the fault of the sneaker brand the athlete is wearing. Yet, with Nike, consumers never blame the product.”
How much was the deal for? Maverick Carter: I can’t say. Come on, Mav! Can you ballpark it? Maverick Carter: What are people saying? Kanye said a billion. So a billion. [Maverick smiles and points one finger skyward.] Holy shit. Maverick Carter: Yeah. It’s a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That’s the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels—Nike feels fantastic about it. It’s the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously.
Projected top pick Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, are now changing course and plan to wait until after the NBA’s draft lottery on Tuesday to decide with which shoe brand to sign, sources told The Vertical. The thinking from Simmons’ camp is straightforward and simple: It’s the Los Angeles Lakers or bust.