Kevin Durant mulls Under Armour, Nike

$285 Million Dilemma: Kevin Durant Caught Between Nike & Under Armour

Photo: ESPN
Kevin Durant Instagrammed a photo of he and Jay-Z signing a contract for Roc Nation Sports.

It’s unclear why Durant, a Nike nut, may suddenly have a clamoring to team up with Under Armour, but sources concede his move to Jay Z‘s Roc Nation last summer started to turn the tables and his agents are being aggressive by leveraging negotiations.

It also doesn’t hurt that Under Armour is a Baltimore-based company and Durant grew up in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, 36 miles southwest of Under Armour’s headquarters, and the company has a record of spending marketing dollars in the community. Rumors have been circulating that in LeBron fashion, Durant just might return to his native Maryland to play for the Washington Wizards when his contract with the Thunder expires after the 2015-16 season; especially if he doesn’t win a ring with OKC.

If Nike passes on matching, Durant will be the second high-profile endorser Nike has lost to UA in the past two years. Last year, UA outbid Nike for the endorsement services of Golden State Warriors star guard Steph Curry who will reportedly get his own signature shoe with the company for the first time in February.

Durant also has endorsement deals with Sprint, BBVA Compass, and Talking Rain. ESPN reports, “Moving to Under Armour likely would mean Durant would have to adopt a new logo. Nike had used ‘KD’ as early as 2008 but was actually granted the trademark for it in January. Durant doesn’t own any trademarks, though in February he did file an application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to trademark ‘Sniper Jones,’ his rap name.”

Under Armour’s $90 million 10-year-deal with Notre Dame is the largest shoe and apparel deal in college sports.

On Aug. 13, Durant went to Under Armour’s headquarters and was said to be blown away by the upstart company’s pitch and presentation. Scheduled to be there only a couple hours, Durant reportedly stayed the day and worked out in its shoes.

Forbes reports Durant became the first NBA player to join Roc Nation Sports in 2013. The Jay Z-founded sports agency now handles Durant’s marketing, in conjunction with CAA. He has two years left on the five-year, $85 million contract he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010. He is rated No. 20 on Forbes‘ list of highest paid athletes.

It’s unclear why Nike hasn’t made moves to lock down the most prolific scorer in the NBA, but if the company intends to keep the reigning MVP, it will have to move fast. The ball, as they say, is in Nike’s court.