Tag Archives: UnderArmour

Thunder At A Glance – 22 October 2018

img_4063Sorry for the absence. Life happens sometimes and you have to take care of responsibilities.

Royce Young (ESPN) recaps the Thunder’s loss to the Kings: “Returning from mid-September knee surgery with no obvious signs of rust, Russell Westbrook’s season debut couldn’t have gone much better. Except for the losing part, which was striking not only in which team it happened against but also in how it happened.”

Noel Harris (Sac Bee) on Iman Shumpert’s journey to become the Thunder’s boogeyman last night: “Being able to play that preseason game, that was a different type of happiness for me after sitting out a year,” Shumpert said. “I joke around about it a lot, but I’m serious as a heart attack when I say it: I don’t wish that on anybody, not being able to play.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 22 October 2018

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Kevin Durant and Under Armour – Power Moves

Kevin Durant shoes nike

The saying goes, “Never judge a man until you’ve walk a mile in his shoes.”. The person who initially said that statement probably never met a superstar athlete with a shoe contract. All NBA fans (or wearers of athletic sneakers, for the matter) have walked around in a “man’s” shoes sometime in their lifetime. Be they Jordans, Kobes, LeBrons, KDs, D.Roses, Melos, etc, etc. Most of these shoes have one of 4 insignia on them: the Jordan Jumpman, the Nike swoosh, the Adidas 3-Lines, or the Reebok vector.

With Kevin Durant rumored to be signing a 10 year/$325 million dollar contact with UnderArmour, a new insignia might be forcing it’s way into our collective basketball minds. Under Armour got its start as a football-centric company, with their moisture-wicking clothing and testerone-induced advertising (“We Must Protect This House!”). Within the last 5 years though, UnderArmour  has been making a big push onto the hardwood. Their first big basketball move was signing recently graduated high school star Brandon Jennings, who eschewed the NCAA in favor of playing professionally overseas. Without the constraints of the NCAA, UnderArmour signed Jennings to a multi-year deal to promote their brand overseas. Although he has forged a good career, Jennings never quite became the star he was touted to be coming out of high school.

In September 2013, UnderArmour snagged their current flag bearer for the company’s basketball division. Steph Curry switched from Nike to UnderArmour, bringing clout to the company’s desire to ascend into the conscious (and bank accounts) of basketball fans everywhere. They had an okay stable of players on their roster, but Curry gave them a recognizable star to hang their hat on. But like the great teams in the league, one superstar is good, but two superstars are better.

steph curry shoes

Durant would push UnderArmour into a different stratosphere. The reigning MVP is fast becoming one of the most recognizable figures in the sport, not only nationally, but worldwide. His dominance in international play and constant presence in the later rounds of the playoffs have thrown Durant into the conversation for best player in the world. For UnderArmour’s name to be associated with Kevin Durant’s shoes would be a coup for the upstart company.

There would also be a hometown connection at play with UnderArmour. Their HQ’s are located in Baltimore, MD, which is relatively close to where Durant grew up. It can be speculated that Durant and UnderArmour CEO Kevin Plank have crossed paths numerous times in the DC/Maryland area. While Nike is the “it” brand in the NBA, Durant has let it be known that he is his own man. And if there is anyone that would be willing to take a chance on a hometown product, it would definitely be Durant.

A small side note on Durant: If he signs this deal, he will be on tap to have earned over $500 million for his career in salary and endorsements.

  • 2007 – Nike – $60 million
  • 2007 – Rookie contract – $16 million
  • 2010 – Contract Extension – $85 million
  • 2014 – Rumored Under Amour deal – $325 million
  • ________________________
  • Total – $486 million
  • Sprint, BBVA, Panini, 2K Sports, Skull Candy, Kind snacks, etc = Has to be over $14 million.

Related note: He’s only 25 years old. He’s halfway to earning a billion dollars with at least 10 years of earning potential left. Unless he “Tiger Woods” his life or is visited by the Injury Reaper, the basketball player from Oklahoma City may be well on his way to being one of only a few billionaire athletes. Kind of kills the whole “you need to be in a big market to increase your earning potential” talk.

Possibility of NBA players hooping overseas

The NBA players and owners currently find themselves in a labor dispute, in which the owners locked the players out on July 1st. This is your basic negotiating ploy by the owners to bleed the players until they finally succumb to “poverty” and come back to the negotiating table with less of a leg to stand on. It happens in every labor dispute where players are locked out. The players, especially mid-tier players and below (aka the majority), eventually run out of revenue streams and plead with the union head to try and strike a deal, regardless of how bad it is. But what happens if the revenue stream doesn’t stop for some of those players? What happens if a small contingent of those players happen to find an alternate source of income that can supplement them through the “tough” times? This is the owners’ worst nightmare and something that no ownership group in any of the 4 major US sports has ever faced.

One of the major differences in this lockout and the ’99 lockout is the availability of leagues that offers comparable salaries and unique fringe benefits. The only drawback to those perks is the fact that the leagues are located throughout Europe and Asia. In an effort to keep up with the popularity of the NBA, basketball leagues throughout Eurasia have flourished with an organized govererning body (FIBA) and leagues and owners that are awashed with money. David Stern’s masterplan as NBA commissioner (globalization of his product), may now become one of his biggest nightmares in this labor dispute.

Globalization of Basketball

Blame it on one of the owners at the negotiating table. Michael Jordan’s meteoric rise in popularity coincided with many world events that brought American culture to the forefront on many foreign lands. The end of the Cold War, the advent of the internet and affordable satellite TV, and global capitalism all came together at the right time to foster an environment where the star of someone could shine brightest. Michael Jordan became the right guy at the right time and the NBA piggy-backed off of that. Then the Dream Team happened.

David Stern made sure to capitalize on the popularity of the Dream Team, and capitalize he has. While baseball remains a popular sport around the world, it is still mainly focused in the US, Latin American, and Japan. Hockey doesn’t really appeal to anyone who lives below the 50º N line on the map. And football, while extremely popular here, has never really taken off anywhere outside of the US. With its visible players, cheap equipment (trash can and paper, if necessary), ability to be a team sport or an individual activity, and uptempo pace, Stern has taken advantage of a product that can, and has, appealed to many. On top of that, most teams now have at least one foreign born player, with some of those players being bonafied superstars. And, add to that the fact that the NBA has taken advantage of technology and social media, in a way that no other sport has, and you have the makings of a global sport.

The globalization of the sport has a trickle down effect on other industries as well. With more and more foreigners wanting to buy their favorite player’s products, it was only a matter of time before companies
starting sending their product pushers over for promotional tours. We’ve seen Kevin Durant start making annual pilgrimages to China to promote his products. We’ve seen Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Dwayne Wade all make trips abroad to promote their products. We’ve seen the NBA send players over as goodwill ambassadors to impoverished areas (Basketball Without Borders). We’ve seen preseason contests between NBA teams and Euroleague teams, and we’ve seen preseason and regular season games played abroad. While this has been good for the brand, it has also taken away the isolationist advantage that owners once held on American players.

The Boogeyman isn’t that scary anymore

While there have been some great American players that have played overseas (Bill Bradley, Mike D’Antoni), most American players are overseas for one of two reasons; either they weren’t good enough to play in the NBA, but good enough to play overseas, or the money overseas was too good to pass up. In the past, American players did not go overseas because they wanted to play overseas. They went because it was the best option.

Brandon Jennings completely changed the game with his decision to forgo his freshman year in college, and instead, play in the Euroleague with Italian club Lottomatica Roma. After that one season, he was
drafted in the top 10 and has gone on to have a successful NBA career. During his time in Italy, he was not taken to a back alley and beaten by punks who were speaking a language he did not understand. He was not taken advantage of by foreign swindlers looking to make a quick buck. Instead, he was treated like any other rookie player and had to earn his playing time. He earned $1.65 million (tax-free!!) in salary AND was given $2 million by UnderArmour to promote their product overseas. And he was all of 19 years old.

With the advent of social media, 24/7 news, the Travel Channel, and easier accessibility, the world that used to seem so big 10 years ago, has now gotten exponentially smaller. The veil of secrecy that covered some places has now been lifted by this basketball globalization. This generation of players was raised in a smaller world, technologically speaking. Those encyclopedia pictures of some obscure land from the past, are now live satellite feeds on YahooMaps. They haven’t been influenced by the Cold War to fear anything across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Instead, they have been influenced by the Dream Team and their foreign teammates to explore the possibilities.

And look at what some of these teams are offering. Millions of dollars tax free. Free living quarters. Chauffeurs. Access to top chefs. Partial ownership in the team while there. It’s a plethora of abundance. Of course, players like Sonny Weems and Jannero Pargo aren’t being offered this entire deal, but players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, etc, would definitely be offered this deal. And those players would take it. Players with little, to no, baggage (i.e. wife, kids, etc) would love this opportunity. Players with families would treat it as a regular season, but a little further away. Its already known that some players don’t live where they play, especially if they are year to year veterans.

You don’t think Deron Williams spoke to ex-teammate Mehmet Okur or to ex-NBA great Allen Iverson about Turkey before making his decision to sign with Turkish club Beşiktaş? You don’t think that Kevin Durant and his people have developed contacts in China with his annual trips down there? Can you imagine how big KD would be in China if he played a couple games there with one of their clubs? While he plays in the one of the NBA’s smaller markets, in OKC, that wouldn’t really matter if he had a billion supporters in China. He’d be guaranteed the starting small forward in the All Star Game for the next 15 years. There’s already been chatter about Dwight Howard playing overseas if the lockout starts taking games away. He would conquer a market that Shaq never did, and you know he’d enjoying rubbing that into the Diesel’s face. The possibilities are all there. The fear that used to permeate their view of the world is no longer there. Deron Williams was the first domino to fall. Who will be next?