According to Darren Rovell, Thunder forward Kevin Durant has a massive sponsorship deal from Under Armour on the table that could be worth $285 million over 10 years, with incentives like a community center built in his mother’s name. Like a restricted free agent, Durant’s former sponsor, Nike, has the chance to match the offer and retain Durant, but either way — he’s getting paid.
With an annual salary between 26.5 million and $28.5 million, Durant will make substantially more money from hawking sports apparal for either company than he will playing basketball — the Thunder will pay him $18,995,624 this year and $20,158,622 in 2015-16. As Rovell puts in perfectly Rovellian terms: “in money alone, Durant would be more an employee of Under Armour than he is of the Thunder.”
This is an enormous investment for UA, not just because only 1 percent of its multi-billion dollar revenue comes from basketball shoe sales. UA will be banking on Durant’s star and brand to keep rising, even though Durant sold just $175 million worth of his signature Nike sneakers last year, compared to $300 million for LeBron James. Forbes recently estimated that LeBron makes about $20 million a year from his deal with Nike.
So here’s the question: Does Durant’s interest in signing with Maryland-based UA have anything to do with the rumors that he’s interested in playing for the Wizards in 2016? Durant reportedly likes that UA spends a lot of money on community development projects, and LeBron has made the concept of “coming home” an attractive, even noble endeavor.
Regardless of where Durant continues his NBA career, remember the next time you watch him play: This is just his hobby. His real job is attaching his name to pretty shoes and modeling them in public places. Not a bad gig.
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