It’s official — Kevin Durant’s great grand children will never have to worry about going hungry. In a move to increase awareness for their basketball business, Under Armour made Kevin Durant a $265-285 million offer that will be tough to refuse. It’s an aggressive play by UA to poach one of Nike’s top athletes. The deal apparently includes stock options and Durant would receive royalties from shoe sales bearing his name.
Is the deal worth it? Depends who you ask. I’m sure some Adidas executives are questioning the $185 million they paid Derrick Rose, but the Nike guys who awarded Rory McIlroy a small fortune are thanking the Endorsement Gods they now have the hottest golfer on the planet (and that he is no longer bogged down by a Danish tennis player).
When you break the deal down, it will equate to more than $26 million a year over 10 years for Durant. That’s considerably more than his current NBA salary of $19 million. This begs the question: in today’s world of salary caps and mega sponsorship deals, who will be running pro sports teams in the future — general managers or corporate marketing departments?
Under Armour is a company closely rooted to the city of Baltimore. Kevin Plank, the company’s founder and CEO, has invested heavily in the Baltimore area as well as surrounding teams including the Baltimore Ravens, University of Maryland and the Naval Academy. With Durant’s contract with Oklahoma City expiring after this season, do you really think for a second his contract with UA won’t tilt him to sign with his hometown Washington Wizards? Do you really think a savvy businessman like Plank would invest so much in a player who will spend the rest of his career in the Oklahoma prairie?
To me, this deal all but guarantees that Durant will be suiting up in the Eastern Conference in 2015. Let’s break this down into salary figures you and I can understand: if you had two bosses and one was paying you $50k per year and the other was paying you $30k a year, which boss would you prioritize?
This new endorsement deal will set an ugly precedent. No, I don’t believe that LeBron James will be suiting up for the Portland TrailBlazers after his contract with the Cavs expires because he has a deal with Nike, but it will make the already difficult task of keeping players in small markets harder. Then again, this is America and to the victors go the spoils.