Coming off of a meteoric individual season and another disappointing Western Conference ouster, Durant approached the 2014 offseason with one thing on his mind: rest. During the summer, Kevin turned down a chance to play for the USA in the FIBA tournament, after previously promising to lead the squad. The rest was both physical and mental, as KD’s sneaker deal with Nike was set to expire in the coming months.
The logical conclusion would be for Nike to retain Durant’s sponsorship services, but another company was pushing hard to sign KD. Baltimore-based Under Armour started to attract the eyes of Durant, a Maryland native. After conversations with UA went well, a massive offer was made, with up to $285 million dollars on the table. Extra incentives included stock options as well as a community center built in Durant’s mother’s name. Nike had the right to match the offer as the incumbent endorser and decided to up the offer further. In August 2014, Kevin Durant signed a 10-year deal worth up to $300 million.
The strange thing about this negotiation process was that Durant’s Nike KD 7 was unveiled two months earlier in June. Before the months of uncertainty, Durant and lead designer Leo Chang spoke on the new features of the KD 7. The signature strap seen on the KD 2 and 4 was back on the midfoot for better containment. The heel Air unit seen on past models was replaced with a visible Zoom unit, which provided a bit more bounce compared to the concealed forefoot Zoom unit.
The upper features a mesh toe box with Flywire integrated throughout. The biggest shift was the Foamposite material on the heel, which is meant to form to your heel over time. This material has been around since the late 90s and gained popularity in Durant’s DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area. All of these materials on the upper combined to provide a superior fit, which helped most players, but ultimately hampered Kevin Durant.
Before the 2014-15 season started, KD suffered a Jones fracture on his foot that would prevent him from playing the start of the season. The KD 7 fit so snug that Durant could not use his custom orthotics that Durant needed to help with recovering. Because of this, Durant wore the KD 6 for this injury-plagued season, with the exception of the 2015 All-Star game. Kevin wore the KD 7 for a quarter of that game, before switching back to the KD 6.
Durant would play in just 27 games before needing additional foot surgery that sidelined him for the rest of year. This meant that KD couldn’t even wear the Nike KD 7 Elite model for the postseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder would end up missing the 2015 NBA Playoffs.