"For companies to come to Oklahoma City means a lot," Durant said. "That's one thing that I wanted to do. I never wanted to go searching for anything. I never wanted to beg for any endorsements. Just let it all come to me by my play."
After leading the NBA in scoring last season, Durant spent his summer leading Team USA to its first gold medal in the FIBA World Championship since 1994. Durant then entered this season as the NBA's newest superstar, helping the Thunder land 15 televised games on ESPN, TNT or ABC. He also recently graced the covers of season preview issues of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.
Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said added attention isn't about where a player is, but what kind of person that player is.
"It's not necessarily that they've come to him, but they've accepted him for who he is no matter where they are," Goodwin said. "It's not a situation where he has to be in New York. He's a marketable kid. He's got a great personality, he stands for what's right and people love him. So it's just a matter of matching him with the right sponsors."
Goodwin, who has represented such stars as LeBron James and Dwight Howard, called Durant unique for making basketball his primary focus despite his rising profile on and off the court. Durant, Goodwin said, has turned down marketing opportunities out of concern that certain endorsements would take too much attention away from his Thunder teammates and the organization.
"I didn't get into the game of basketball just to get endorsements," Durant said. "I always want to put basketball first and that's what I'm doing. And stuff is starting to come my way now."
We're only seeing the beginning.
"It's definitely just the start," Goodwin said. "The league is really embracing Kevin, and the advertisers are realizing that he's a genuine kid and they're hitching their boats to him. And people love authenticity."