Jay Z's 17-month-old sports agency, Roc Nation Sports, is still fighting for legitimacy. It only
represents nine clients in three sports, and it has "generated more anonymous sniping and
scrutinizing" than your typical agency from rivals, according to a recent New York Post report.
Roc Nation pulled off what was perhaps its most significant deal to date, landing its most
famous client, Kevin Durant, a 10-year endorsement contract with Nike that could be worth
up to $300 million. It's a monster deal. Durant's last Nike contract was worth $60 million over
seven years. LeBron James, the reigning king of the sneaker world among active players,
makes an estimated $20 million annually from Nike — less than Durant will make under his
new deal — despite his signature shoe raking in a reported $300 million in revenue per year
compared to Durant's $175 million.
Roc Nation got Durant so much money by starting a bidding war with a company with little
basketball history, Under Armour. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, Nike initially offered $20
million per year. Roc Nation then went to Under Armour and got an offer for $26-28 million per
year. News of the negotiations leaked, prompting a wave of stories about Under Armour's mission
to take down Nike. In early August, it seemed like Durant-to-UA was all but a done deal.
Finally, at the "11th-hour" (as Rovell calls it), Nike exercised its right to match any offer and gave
Durant a deal worth up to $30 million per year — 50% more than the company's initial offer. It was
a risky move, especially if Durant didn't want to leave Nike, which is a distinct possibility. In 2007,
Durant turned down a $70 million sneaker deal from Adidas and took less money, $60 million,
to sign with Nike. At the time, his agent told ESPN, "He took the time to give Adidas the opportunity
and they're a great company, but he chose the company that he's more familiar with. And we build
brands on authenticity and it's more authentic for him to be somewhere where he wants to be and
After his new Nike deal went through, NBA player and Under Armour endorser Kent Bazemore
tweeted at Durant thanking him for considering UA. NBA veteran Andre Iguodala replied to Bazemore
and implied that UA was never a real possibility, saying, "I had a better shot at Halle berry!"
Source: Business Insider