Durant's marketing ability is through the roof, including recently starred in a kid's movie. (probasketballtalk.com)
Kevin Durant seems to have this superstar thing all figured out. We first mentioned this last summer, acknowledging how Durant humbly stayed with the small-market club and showed all the qualities of a different (and better) type of star. Durant didn't complain about not playing in a huge city (cough, cough, Dwight) and he doesn't mind his teammates taking shots (are you listening, Kobe?). He seems to never get angry at the media and handles himself with class. Durant's approach doesn't seem to be hurting his marketing ability at all. Nike has launched a "KD is not nice" campaign that plays off the fact Durant is one of the most likeable faces in the NBA. It's a smart concept, because his track record makes it easy to tell the slogan isn't serious, while it plays on the fact that what KD does on the court, and how good he is, isn't nice for opponents. He'll shake your hand, but after he drains the game-winning three. Durant also starred in a recently released kids movie called "Thunderstruck." I'm sure the movie went straight to DVD and don't think it broke any box-office records, but regardless, Durant is the one staring in the movie, not LeBron or Kobe. By being the humble, quiet and yes, nice, star, Durant has separated himself from the pack and created a new way to market himself. What makes it even more likeable? It's because this humble persona is genuine. It has to be or else this wouldn't work. That's why Dwight and Kobe haven't had Nike pitch this to them. It's much more difficult to be an athlete in the social media and Internet era, where every aspect of an athlete's life is revealed. One wrong step (or decision, if you will) can change the way a player is viewed (just ask LeBron how his decision went). Yet no one seems to have a negative thing to say about Durant. He still has a long career left where adversity could get to him, but it just doesn't seem like he will snap and be hated. If Durant doesn't have that misstep, and if this "KD is not nice" campaign takes off like it has started, the humble superstar will continue to grab the hearts of NBA fans across the country. The only time fans will be able to hate him is when he beats their team with great performances, and that's the kind of hate Durant can probably live with.