By Barry Janoff
June 29, 2013: Kevin Durant has accomplished a lot in his basketball career: NBA rookie of the year in 2007-08, three time NBA scoring champ, four-time all-star, part of the gold medal winning USA Men's Basketball Team at the 2012 London Olympics and numerous endorsements.
But he has yet to win an NBA championship, and he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2007 out of Texas (behind Greg Oden, who went No. 1 overall to the Portland Trail Blazers).
Durant is still searching for that NBA championship. But he has been drafted No. 1 — in a new TV commercial for Nike that supports the release of Durant's signature KD VI hoops shoes.
The scene is the Seat Pleasant, MD, 2:35 PM Draft. A group of players sit in a makeshift gym-slash-lunchroom in the local recreation hall. A board on the wall reads, Shirts-Skins. Out front is a group of TV announcers — led by ESPN's Jay Bilas and a guy who looks like former ESPN sports anchorman and current Los Angeles Dodgers radio play-by-play man Charley Steiner. They are calling the draft selection for the pick-up league as if it were the NBA Draft.
Hence, the theme of the campaign: Summer is Serious.
The action revolves around which player will be selected No. 1 overall: Durant or "local legend Anton Barrels," who is seated at a table with his crew glaring at and taunting Durant.
"He can't ball, he's just tall," says of Durant. To which Durant replies, "How you seen my highlights."
As the tension builds, Bilas describes both men and their hoops attributes.
"Durant's got guard-like skills in a big man's body," Bilas relates as we see actual highlights of Durant in action with the Thunder. "A wing-span that goes on for days."
But Barrels is not to be overlooked. "Barrels has scouts intrigued. He's built like a bowling ball," Bilas says of the 5'9", 200 lb. street-baller."He's got a low center of gravity. You can't get up underneath him, and he never backs down."
Barrel himself has confirmed that description on his Twitter account. "They call me Anton Barrels. Cause I barrels through the lane."
Finally, the moment has come. A drum roll begins, courtesy of a kid sitting at a set of skins, and the first pick is about to be made. Turns out the draft is being MC'ed not by NBA commissioner David Stern but NBA Hall of Famer George "The Iceman" Gervin.
"With the first pick in the 2:35 PM Seat Pleasant Draft, the Shirts pick . . . Kevin Durant."
A jubilant Durant puts on a hat that reads "Shirts" and moves to get his congratulations from Gervin as a despondent Barrels looks on.
Text then offers, "Summer is Serious" and directs viewers to a supporting Twitter destination and to the NikeBasketball.com Web site.
In addition to possibly taking a dig at the Trail Blazers, the spot is filled with other hints regarding Durant. He is from the nearby Washington, DC area, and now resides in Seat Pleasant. He played college ball at U. Texas in Austin, about six hours southeast from Anton, TX. He and Gervin often are compared regarding their skills and basketball moves, and Gervin has been a vocal supporter of Durant's.
“He can flat out play the game and he loves the game, so over the summer time he’s working to get better, so that’s why I say his potential is scary," Gervin said during the NBA Finals on an ESPN broadcast of First Take.
Durant has been the marketing poster player for the NBA during the post-season. In addition to this Nike ad, which was filmed in April, he also has appeared in TV spots for Gatorade with Dwyane Wade, Sprint, BBVA Compass and Skullcandy headphones.
Durant earns about $12-$14 million in endorsements, according to industry analysts.
On Madison Avenue, Kevin Durant Is The NBA's Peyton Manning
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