Could Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant possibly sign up with Under Armour instead of Nike?
This is a possibility ESPN's Darren Rovell explored in his July 30 article:
"It's not all smooth sailing among Durant's sponsors, as his biggest deal is in limbo. After seven versions of his signature shoe, Durant's deal with Nike expires this week, and sources say Under Armour, based in his home state of Maryland, is preparing a robust offer.
"'Nike has been a part of me ever since I was in high school and have been great since I've been in the league but I'm just going to let my team be the ones who handle that behind the scenes, I guess,' Durant said. 'When you look at stuff like that, it's great problems to have because people want you for what you know and do on the basketball court, the work you put in, so I'm going to continue to put my work in, let them focus on that on the other end, and we'll come together at some point.'
"Durant switched agents last June and became the first NBA client of Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports.
"'They work so hard for me,' Durant said. 'It's like a family atmosphere over there. I love it. It's a great decision I made. A lot of people didn't know what was going on before because it was new. I think it has paid off because these guys know how to handle business and they put me in the right positions and gave me some great opportunities.'
"One of those opportunities was Sparkling Ice, an up-and-coming beverage brand that Durant says he became obsessed with.
"'My agents, the marketing guys at Roc Nation, sat down, and I was like, 'Look, this is something I drink every single day and would be cool to be a part of,' he said.
"Durant is now the company's only celebrity spokesperson.
"Durant admits his wardrobe off the court has evolved as he has grown and he is ready to shed the connection with the backpack that became part of him thanks to its presence around him during postgame news conferences.
"'I still carry a backpack with me but I'd rather put on a suit and people know me for that,' Durant said. 'I think I ran with that a little bit, too. It's a change in the guard now. I would rather be buttoned up. A backpack is more associated with (a) kid. I think I'm a grown up.'"
"The Kevin Durant to the Wizards talk has earned by far its biggest audience this week, after Durant's somewhat innocuous comments about his great love of Washington. That led to headlines and polls, and SportsCenter teases, and -- Wednesday afternoon -- to the lead segment on PTI.
"Michael Wilbon read Durant's quote about Washington -- that the city 'is a part of me, it's in my blood' -- and then asked Jason Whitlock what he makes of that quote.
"'I make of it that it's two years off and we're already talking about it, which somewhat annoys me, but I also make of it that Kevin Durant's probably going home,' Whitlock said. 'And we need to recognize something about this generation of young people: They like to represent their area codes. The 317, where I'm from. What is it, the 306 where LeBron's from...'
"'202 or 301, depending whether KD si going to be in the nation's capital or Maryland,' Wilbon continued. 'Look, they're laying the foundation, the Wizards are. They've done all the right things. They could have jumped in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes this summer, they didn't. And Carmelo's not from New York. He's from Baltimore, which is a whole lot closer to Washington than New York.
"But they didn't, because they're trying to gather all their resources and clear out a big pile of money...when it comes time to offer Kevin Durant the money.
"'Now, a few years ago I remember talking to Kevin Durant,' Wilbon went on. 'And at that time, as a young man, coming home was daunting to him, and it should be. Because the demands in greater Washington D.C. on Kevin Durant, they are enormous. And it will be to be a savior of basketball here. He grew up watching the Bullets and Wizards.
"He is now old enough and mature enough, I think -- and I believe he feels this way too -- to entertain that notion. If the Wizards come to get him, he's ready. But this is a dilemma. He loves Oklahoma City, but he also loves his hometown.'
"'We talk a lot about how the NBA is slanted towards big-market teams,' Whitlock said. 'This mindset of representing your hometown may be the equalizer in all this. These guys want to play in their hometown, want to rep where they come from.'
"'Can you see him in a Washington uniform and leaving OKC?' Wilbon asked.
"'Absolutely,' Whitlock said. 'And I can see it being a very big deal, and I can see him releasing a statement -- I'm coming him -- to loud applause.'
"'John Wall, Bradley Beal...that could be pretty good,' Wilbon said.
"Yes, it could."
Durant, the 2013-14 NBA MVP, is entering his eighth pro season. He has averaged 27.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 542 regular-season games, per ESPN stats.
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