On Monday, NBA superstar Kevin Durant announced his intentions to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and sign with the Golden State Warriors. The move certainly dampened the Fourth of July festivities for fans of Texas’s professional basketball teams, who are now haunted by the terrifying prospect of watching both Durant and his new teammate Steph Curry regularly dismantle their team’s defense for at least the next two seasons. It may have a particular sting for the San Antonio Spurs, who were on the perimeter of teams in line to sign the seven-time All-Star.
But not all Lone Star basketball fans are disappointed: Durant’s decision couldn’t have turned out better for his alma mater, the University of Texas, which seems primed for a windfall of cash thanks to the sweeping apparel deal inked with Nike in October. Not only was Durant a focal point of the massive contract, but he was also instrumental in helping UT and Nike reach a deal. College sports recruiting news service Scout.com reported that Durant actually met in person with UT and Nike as the two sides negotiated in September. Less than a month later, the deal was finalized for a record $250 million over fifteen years.
According to the contract, which you can read over at the Austin American-Statesman, UT will get royalty payments for a new co-branded line of Durant-themed Nike apparel. The contract says that the exact value of this part of the deal is “TBD,” before noting that “Durant licensed product sold by Nike has reached record levels in recent years compared to other pro athletes in Nike’s portfolio.”
The NBA says the Warriors are the second-most popular team in terms of jersey sales, and Durant’s Oklahoma City jersey was the eighth-best seller among individual players last season. Durant was miles behind both LeBron James (also tied to Nike) of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Curry (Under Armour) in shoe sales. But with Nike expected to make Durant the face of its basketball merchandise west of the Mississippi River, his apparel line could take off. “He certainly could achieve a level of LeBron if they come out with the right product and he performs at a high level,” one sports industry analyst told Bloomberg.
As Forbes notes, Durant leaving the unsexy Oklahoma City behind for one of the most popular teams in the league will only mean more money for Nike and UT. That’s certainly not a bad return on investment, considering Durant only spent one season playing for the university.