Kevin Durant and Nike going all in on new shoes

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 28: Nike shoes worn by Kevin Durant
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 28: Nike shoes worn by Kevin Durant /

Kevin Durant, the 2017 Finals MVP, and Nike, his shoe company, are trying to make statements with two new pairs of KD 10’s.

Being an NBA superstar is more than just being great at the game of basketball. That’s just the first step. Being a global superstar means having a recognizable and international brand on top of being one of the best on the court.

There aren’t that many superstars in the league. By my count, there are three. There’s LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard are on the bubble, but they don’t have the combination of success and widespread appeal that those other three do.

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What really sets those guys apart are the images and narratives that their shoe companies have carved out for them. James and Durant are with the almighty Swoosh. Curry, the league’s darling underdog, is with Under Armour, a company not known for excellence in the sport of basketball.

James has won three championships, each one helping shape his legacy and brand more than the one before. Curry won back-to-back MVPs after historic seasons and enjoyed unprecedented team success. Durant seemed to get lost in all of that.

In the summer of 2016, he joined Curry’s Golden State Warriors. A little less than a year later, the two of them would be standing on the Oracle Arena court celebrating a championship win. That was only the beginning for Durant.

The 2014 MVP is one of the most special players in the history of the league. He has also had one of the most successful shoes of any current player. They told his story.

Durant, now, though is in a different place than at any point in his career. He is coming off his first title. For a year, he had to endure insults, ridicule, and assaults on his character and who he is as a man. For a person who pays attention to critics and detractors and has a glass-half-full approach, that consistent outpour of hate and judgment can be tough.

This Durant has gone on the offensive. Starting with the Warriors’ incredible postseason run, he’s proven to be a man on a mission. In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, he splashed a dagger over LeBron James in Cleveland, after everyone said that James owned him and Durant would disappear in the big moment.

Durant’s on top of the world right now. He has a championship and he’s untouchable. He’s taken to Twitter to remind people.

He and Nike are riding this momentum and going all in on his shoes. They have released two pretty awesome pairs of KD 10’s. One of them, “Red Velvet,” has already dropped. The one called “Numbers” will hit shelves on October 1st.

Both shoes have pretty cool stories behind them. The “Red Velvet” shoes are a shot at the Oklahoma CIty Thunder fans who tried to insult him by calling him a cupcake. He took that jab and countered it, first with his cupcake hat at JaVale McGee’s charity softball game and now these kicks.

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The second pair, the clean all-white KD’s, is also unique. As the tweet above indicates, it features the Golden State Warriors logo on the inside. Nike normally promotes the player, not their team, making this a very interesting decision.

Durant is trying to become Nike’s premier brand. He’s also trying to become the Bay Area’s brightest star. With James and Curry there respectively, it’s an uphill battle. But these two pairs of shoes are extremely good first steps towards accomplishing that.