The National Basketball Association is currently in the midst of a lockout with no end in sight. The David Stern-led NBA and Players’ Association aren’t anywhere near reaching an agreement; the League has already canceled games through the end of November.
But how is the lockout affecting the likes of Nike, Reebok and Adidas and their respective hoops divisions? Sure, you can watch one hour of programming on ESPN tonight and see a few commercials for these brands, touting their basketball merchandise. But these big-name companies and other advertisers are faced with another problem courtesy of the lockout.
Not only are they having trouble reaching their target demographic of youth basketball players and fans; they run of risk of their talented, cross-dribbling NBA spokespersons losing their global appeal and fading out of the limelight without a season.
So how are basketball’s biggest superstars keeping up their personal brands without being on the court? For starters, LeBron James can be seen poking fun at himself in McDonald’s Monopoly campaign. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh are shilling for Phiten in an online video series. But Kevin Durant, on the other hand, has taken a much more active approach.
Bored on Halloween night, the University of Texas alum sent out a seemingly innocuous tweet from his @KDtrey5 account, “This lockout is really boring..anybody playing flag football in Okc..I need to run around or something!”
Flooded with responses, KD actually reached back out to George Overby, a junior at nearby Oklahoma State. Overby replied to Durant that he and his fraternity brothers had a game that night and they just so happened to need a wide receiver threat. Durant obliged and loaded up his car for the hour-plus drive to the OSU campus in Stillwater.
I have no idea if Durant did this at the urging of an agent or per the advice of a sponsor, but the entire course of events seemed fairly genuine and spontaneous. For one night Durant transcended his face-of-the-franchise label and looked like a normal fun-loving 23-year-old kid.
In a sport where the league’s biggest superstar can give out lessons on how to trash an iconic brand in just one hour-long special, a player and personality like Durant is truly an anomaly. It’s beyond refreshing for fans to see a more personable side of a young superstar from a sport where billionaire owners are currently fighting with millionaire players.
Who knows how long the effects of Durant’s foray onto the flag-football gridiron will last, but in the short-term, this type of thing has to do wonders for KD’s brand. Whenever the League makes a comeback, you can count on the two-time NBA All-Star popping up in more and more ads.