If I could have one active NBA player on my basketball team, it would be Kevin Durant. Hands down.
But until I saw this commercial I would have picked LeBron James if I could have only one NBA player on my marketing team.
From a player standpoint, I cannot count the number of times Jordan’s name has been used since he retired in an attempt by sports media to hype up a new, young player. Durant is no exception. He was compared to Jordan when he came in to the league, too. But the difference for me when thinking about Durant has always been that I think he has the chance to finish with a better playing legacy. I think the really interesting (and less asked) question is, “Can Kevin Durant build an even larger, more lucrative, longer lasting brand than Jordan?” LeBron is typically the guy who’s name comes up when this discussion surfaces, but this Nike ad is proof to me that, if handled correctly, Durant’s commercial appeal and overall brand reach could become a force to be reckoned with.
Nike’s Basketball Never Stops campaign does not start and end with KD, but this commercial may end up being the defining moment of his brand’s history.
In both the worlds of basketball and of athlete/spokesmen LeBron James is huge. Kobe Bryant and Dirk are both proven and battle-tested. Dwane Wade is amazing on the court and seems to have his face on almost as many products as James. But Kevin Durant is the future of the NBA, Nike, and many other brands and this spot highlights some of the reasons why:
1. He is humble
2. He plays in a working-class, humble city. Many US cities have been humbled in the last few years, and hard work has become cool again. Flash is out, dedication and fortitude are in.
3. The above two items make him cool.
4 He is really (really) good. Even his shot in the commercial looks awkward, smooth, subtle, unique, and calculated in the most deadly way.
5. He works really (really) hard. And all the time he spends working is time spent with his mouth closed.
6. He has fun.
7. He is an alpha dog (just like Jordan). Durant does not bark much, but he plays like he is out to make everyone else sorry they suited up and stepped on the court. That “King of the court” attitude combined with his soft-spoken, modest demeanor off the court is rare and special and intriguing.
Always beware of the quite ones. And never (ever) underestimate the emotional capital of Sam Cooke singing behind some carefully selected footage.