How Kevin Durant Can Push His Nike Shoes to the Next Level

  • Nickname

    I’m sorry. The Servant? No way. Slim Reaper is solid enough but we all know that one’s not gonna stick. “KD” would be great if a thousand other players didn’t already use their initials as a nickname. What are we left with? Easy Money could work — a little too generic though. Nike once called him “Velvet Hoop” and that’s not going to work, either.

    Durant doesn’t necessarily need a nickname, but his sneaker line could sure use one. It’ll only help.

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  • Nike KD7
    Innovate

    Michael Jordan introduced everything from elephant print to carbon fiber to the Flight Plate to the first performance-woven upper in his signature sneaker line. Kobe Bryant debuted some of the lightest basketball shoes ever made, defying the myths about low-top shoes. Even LeBron James helped debut full-length, visible Zoom Air, along with the idea of having updated sneakers for every point in the season.

    Durant’s line hasn’t been showcased at that level yet, mostly because in basketball’s hierarchy he always came after ‘Bron and Kobe. He was eating second, every year, no matter what. But now that Bryant is on his way out on a bad team, and with Durant coming on strong, it’s time to equip the KD line with something new and impressive, innovation to spark interest.

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  • Memorable Marketing

    Ranking the greatest basketball commercials of all time is a difficult task. But the best ones all have something in common: creativity.

    Durant’s latest — “The Baddest” — is a Master’s course in modern day marketing. It leans on the game’s history while still acknowledging today’s greatness. But it could still be improved upon. Where’s KD’s Mars Blackmon? Where’s KD’s Lil Penny? Where’s KD’s LeBrons? Heck, where’s KD? Show Durant is more than just a crossover-shaking, three-point-making, bucket-dropping offensive juggernaut and Nike’ll really have something.

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  • Nike KD7
    Classic Colorway

    Doesn’t it feel like Durant, just a few weeks away from 26, is on the cusp of something big? He’s dealt with defeat, with being second, and now with criticism. If someone were to tell me that in the next year, OKC not only wins a title but Durant becomes the game’s best player — how many of you realize Durant was better than LBJ last year in just about every statistical argument? — I wouldn’t be surprised. In a way, I almost expect it. He’s improved exponentially in every year he’s been in the league, improving in new areas each summer.

    His sneaker line should reflect that, and it should celebrate that with a classic colorway.

    When the original LeBron 8 “South Beach” colorway dropped upon James’ decision to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010, it set off a storm, and no matter what Nike does for the King from here on out, that shoe will probably always be considered his magnum opus because of everything it celebrated.

    Now the question is when will Durant get his “South Beach?” I feel like it could be coming soon.

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  • Kevin Durant
    NBA Championship

    I’ve written about this one in the past but for anyone with a clue, this should be obvious. The Thunder have Durant, Russell WestbrookSerge Ibaka, the best crowd in the game, a talented front office. If they don’t win at least one title at some point before it’s all over, then they’ll be considered a disappointment.

    A championship would validate Durant. It would validate his name. It would validate his sneakers. He’d go from being a great player to a legend, and his sneakers would suddenly see a pike in popularity. It’s happened with LeBron James. Before that it happened with Kobe. It happened with Mike. It’s happened with nearly everyone. Imagine if Penny Hardaway had won a title? We can only imagine. Durant shouldn’t have to imagine much longer.

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  • Nike KD7
  • Nike KD7
  • Nike KD7 "35,000 Degrees"
  • Kevin Durant

The summer between Kevin Durant‘s seventh and eighth seasons in the NBA marked more than just his first offseason as the reigning best player in the world or his first experience fielding questions about Oklahoma City’s somewhat diminishing championship window. Thanks to a mix of different factors, Nike had finally helped push Durant’s signature sneaker line into the elite, bringing in $175 million in 2013. As always with Durant, he finished second to LeBron, who rolled up $300 million. A big difference. But when your sales increase by 400 percent over the previous year, as KD’s did, no one is really complaining.

With the 2014-15 season fast approaching, Durant enters with a seventh signature sneaker, one that’s made a lot of improvements over previous versions. There’s the return of the mid-foot strap, the Hyperposite technology, the Nike Flywire, and the continuation of the Weatherman theme. There’s an all-red “Global Games” colorway — so necessary in 2014 — and a handful of other colorways all relating to similar themes. This Wednesday’s release at Champs Sports includes the “Easy Money” colorway, which shouts out Ben Franklin, the $100 bill, and most importantly, ol’ Ben’s love of electricity and science. With near Dolphin-inspired colors, the shoe is expected to be another hit, with a forest green strap, a peach-colored inner lining, and gum bottoms. Considering Durant’s popularity is soaring right now, there’s no reason to think otherwise.

No one’s sure whether OKC can finally push past the last hurdle and win an NBA championship. We’re not talking about that today. We’re talking about How Kevin Durant Can Push His Nike Shoes to the Next Level.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney