A high-end athlete endorsement bidding war between Nike and Under Armour concluded Sunday when Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant posted a statement on Twitter confirming a deal was reached:
Excited and humbled to sign back with the swoosh!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 1, 2014
According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, Durant has elected to sign a massive contract extension with Nike:
Kevin Durant has now officially signed with Nike. Deal runs through start of 2024 season.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 31, 2014
LeBron James also commented on the extension:
Andre Iguodala joked that Under Armour never really stood a chance after his Warriors teammate Kent Bazemore (an Under Armour client) thanked Durant for his consideration:
@24Bazemore I had a better shot at Halle berry!— Andre Iguodala (@andre) September 1, 2014
Under Armour recently approached Durant with a monster proposition, but Nike had the chance to match and opted to do so. That ensures Durant will remain with the company as he enters the prime of his career.
Rovell and Marc Stein previously reported for ESPN.com that Nike countered an offer from Under Armour in the $265-285 million range. Nike felt the amount was enough to retain Durant, and Sunday's news proves it indeed was.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today points out in his report how Durant's current seven-year deal with Nike, worth approximately $60 million, is expiring on Sunday. Zillgitt also offered his analysis and further details regarding the reported Nike deal:
While the final dollar amount is expected to rival and perhaps surpass what Under Armour offered, this is a coup for Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, which proved it can procure a financially significant endorsement deal.
The 10-year deal with Nike has the potential to reach $300 million and includes a $50 million retirement package, two people familiar with the terms of the deal told USA TODAY Sports.
As he continues to increase his marketability and develop as an elite basketball player, Durant is bound to boost his brand to new heights in the coming years. The Thunder may not be Durant's team long term, because he has the chance to test free agency in 2016 should he choose to go that route.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how valuable Durant was during his 2013-14 MVP season:
Most Win Shares, 2013-14 Season: Kevin Durant 19.2 LeBron James 15.9 Kevin Love 14.3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 26, 2014
Durant addressed his looming maiden voyage into the open market this offseason, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne:
I'm going to do what's best for me. It's hard to talk about that right now when I've got two years left in Oklahoma City. I'm just going to focus on that. I'm not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does. I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It's in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too.
No matter what type of maximum contract Durant demands from Oklahoma City or another NBA franchise when the time comes, this Nike endorsement contract takes care of him during and after his days on the hardwood. CBSSports.com's Joel Corry's assessment before the deal went down was fitting:
While his eventual destination in the NBA is still unclear, there is no question as to which corporation will have Durant's services moving forward.
Durant is now positioned to maximize his potential on and off the court. At just 25 years old, there is plenty of time for Durant to explore more commercial avenues than ever before and grow his profile even further.
If and when Durant's game continues to progress and championships potentially follow, Nike will be able to say it has teamed up with what should be one of the best basketball players of not only the current generation but of all time. With this type of financial security, Durant can now focus on his pursuit of the Larry O'Brien Trophy and a bright all-around future.