By Craig Kwasniewski
There was a VERY entertaining discussion on twitter between several respected NBA writers/bloggers this past weekend about the $85 pricetag on Kevin Durant's signature kicks the Nike KD 2. One side talked about how great it was for such a future superstar to be charging so little compared to the normal cost of nike signature kicks. The other angle was that it wasn't low enough and "shame on our biz for celebrating and giving free adds for this robbery by sneaker companies and players."
Good points all around... I know, sounds like a generic cop-out but really I can totally see both sides. HOWEVER... They missed the real problem with the $85 pricetag:
The marketability or lack thereof of one the The Association's truly good guys with amazing talent.
Nike and team Durant had to drop the price of his kicks to make them affordable for the "common man." Nice spin, but TRUST ME if the shoes were flying off the shelves a company like Nike would be charging A LOT more. This is the same group that was selling Air Jordan at $150-$175 this past year during a major economic crises. It's not like Nike suddenly got a conscious and felt bad about the 10% unemployment rate and wanted to give back. It's marketing 101 and the reality: Durant isn't moving product.
Even worse, Durant (who's third in overall scoring at 29.1 ppg) sits a distant fifth in All-Star voting for forwards in the Western Conference behind Pau Gasol who missed 17 of 41 games and barely ahead of Trevor Ariza. That's not a knock on Ariza who's good but no way close to Durant talent-wise. Though like everyone in Houston I'm sure Ariza throws a hell of an outlet pass, score yet another for Daryl Morey and his first round elimination 2009-10 Houston Rockets. Durant should be a close third.
While Durant can't sniff a vote for the All-Star game, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson are both #2 in their respective positions with A.I. looking like he'll get a starting spot. T-Mac, a me-first guy who's being paid $23.2 million to NOT play with his team and A.I., who's clearly on the last legs of a once-illustrious career... both players leading the voting is a serious problem.
Kevin Durant is a good kid, very accessible (or at least gives the public the impression that he's very accessible, unlike many of the "stars of the early 00's like T-Mac and Vince Carter) with an incredible amount of talent and has that competitive chip on his shoulder that allows him to challenge himself and improve from year to year. He really seems to get it.
I wrote this after attending All-Star Weekend in Phoenix: "The main story of the weekend was Shaq and Kobe, but the All-Star breakthrough story was Durant. The guy DOMINATED the Rookie game for 46 POINTS! Even if there was zero defense being played, 46 points in 40 minute game with a running clock is impressive!"
With all that, he's still comes off as the indie-rock baller of the NBA who toils in obscurity instead of being the household name like Melo, Wade, Kobe or LeBron... and THATS the problem with the $85 kicks.