LeBron James may have been voted the most popular male athlete in America, but that doesn’t mean he is the NBA’s most likable player. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant is ahead of James when it comes to this statistic via the Q Score, which is a measure of familiarity and public appeal. Durant solidified himself as “Mr. Likable” with the heart-warming MVP speech he delivered at the end of the NBA regular season.
After that moment, Durant’s marketability went through the roof, but the league’s MVP admits there wasn’t an agenda when he stepped up to the podium to accept the award after leading the Oklahoma Thunder to the second best record in the NBA.
“I didn’t do that to be marketable, to be looked at as one of the more marketable guys. Was just being myself, and, if people like (me) for me being myself, then I’m cool with it. I’m not trying to be nobody else or act a different way. 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.”
Durant is about to bank off of his popularity right now. His 7-year, $60 million deal with Nike is set to expire this week and sports apparel rival Under Armour is preparing to hand him a lucrative offer. The most recent report states that the Under Armour deal for Kevin Durant could be in the neighborhood of $325 million over 10 years. It’s also noted that Adidas is trying to obtain Durant’s services.
This will mark Durant’s first major deal under Roc Nation Sports, which is founded by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z in conjunction with CAA. The All-Star forward says he is comfortable with his management team taking care of the negotiations.
“I’m just going to let my team be the ones who handle that behind the scenes, I guess. When you look at stuff like that, it’s great problems to have because people want you for what you know and do on the basketball court, the work you put in, so I’m going to continue to put my work in, let them focus on that on the other end, and we’ll come together at some point.”
According to Forbes, this deal alone will bring Durant approximately $32.5 million annually and will make him the fifth-highest endorsement earning athlete on the planet, trailing golfer Tiger Woods, LeBron James, tennis star Roger Federer and golfer Phil Mickelson.
Durant also has endorsement deals with Sprint, BBVA, Panini, 2K Sports, Skullcandy, and Kind snacks.