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Kevin Durant: Proof market size doesn’t matter

by Erik Horne Modified: July 31, 2014 at 9:50 am •  Published: July 31, 2014
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(AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Garett Fisbeck)
(AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Garett Fisbeck)

You don’t have to play basketball in a big market to be marketable.

Want proof? Look no further than Kevin Durant.

The NBA’s MVP is playing for a team in the U.S.’s 41st largest television market. That’s a smaller market than 24 other NBA cities, yet Durant has more endorsements than LeBron James.

Heck, Durant has more endorsements than any player in the league.

On Wednesday in Las Vegas, Durant answered questions and talked about his burgeoning marketability to the 10 companies that sponsor him. Durant’s popularity has steadily been on the rise since he entered the league in 2007-08, but it reached new heights this past calendar year as he signed with Jay Z’s Roc Nation, dethroned James as league MVP, and captured the attention and hearts of the nation via his MVP speech in Oklahoma City.

From ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell’s piece on Durant:

“I’m still a work in progress just like everybody else so I’m just going to continue to keep being who I am, and I enjoy all the partners that partner with me. I just try to do my best to represent them and do everything in authentic ways.”

According to Rovell, Durant’s free agency – his shoe free agency – begins this week, as his Nike contract is set to expire. Under Armour is reportedly in play and is making a push to be Durant’s next sponsor (Obligatory KD to Washington Conspiracy Theory Note: Under Armour is based in Maryland). In endorsement money alone this year, Durant has nearly matched his salary, raking in $14 million according to Forbes. Count that as at least one thing you can cross off Durant’s list of reasons to leave OKC in 2016 – he can make money anywhere.

James proved that by becoming a “Global Icon” in Cleveland, and returning home to his small-market kingdom. Durant has evolved into an icon himself, without the stage of a mega-metropolis.

by Erik Horne
Online Sports Editor
Erik Horne joined The Oklahoman as a sports web editor/producer in September 2013, following a five-year stint at The Ardmoreite (Ardmore) – first as a sports writer, then sports editor. At The Ardmoreite, Horne reported on everything from prep...
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