As a heterosexual father of two, I have to make a confession: I have a fiery man crush on Kevin Durant.
This is primarily due to the amazing skills Durant brings to the floor. He scores, and he scores in every imaginable way possible. Then, he scores in ways never imagined. And while that’s an obvious reason to enjoy his game, I’ve also been able to watch him blossom into a complete player over the past two seasons.
But what I really like about Durant is that he is genuine and humble. Or so I think.
Last year, we all witnessed LeBron James’ debacle called “The Decision.” You know the fallout from that. If you don’t, Google “Dan Gilbert Comic Sans.” That will give you all the information you need.
Anyway, as James was ruining his reputation, Durant also was involved in contract discussions. His took two minutes. He re-signed with the Thunder and announced it two days later with this simple message posted on Twitter: “Exstension for 5 more years wit the #thunder….God Is Great, me and my family came a long way…I love yall man forreal, this a blessing!”
In the PR war, Durant reigned supreme. Most everyone outside of Miami now roots against James, while Durant is repeatedly lavished and praised for his humbleness.
However, two recent marketing campaigns, both launched by Nike, pit James against Durant again and bring questions about what to believe about either player. The Durant campaign consists of supposedly candid YouTube videos shot by KD’s “neighbor,” a kid named “Mathias Murphy.” They are short clips of Durant taking out the trash or casually shooting baskets on a Walmart-style hoop in his driveway. The campaign is supposed to be “raw” and “viral.” Unfortunately, it comes across as contrived.
On the other hand, James’ campaign is a highly polished “screw you” to the people who questioned “The Decision.” It comes off as either a call to the “waambulance” (for those who now hate him) or a clever rehabilitation of his image to those who adore him. It’s divisive, and the shoe company is banking on making millions on his love-him-or-hate-him image.
It’s a modern-day Magic-vs.-Bird advertising war in its infancy, and the theme is apparent. Durant and his “aw, shucks, I just love the game, the city and the fans” image is the good guy, while James is the edgy adversary.
The problem is that when professional marketers come into play, you never know what is real. Is Durant genuinely humble, or does his apparent lack of ego come from a corporate behemoth and image consultants? Is James really a likable guy who made an unfortunate public relations decision, or just a third-degree narcissist who loves to be hated?
In this case of James, I don’t really care. But for Durant, let’s hope it is real. Let’s hope he continues scoring and the Thunder continues winning.
And let’s hope my man crush on him continues to grow.
Clark Matthews is an editor of the local news and entertainment blog TheLostOgle.com.