Kevin Durant isn’t running from the “cupcake” moniker backhandedly given to him by former teammate Russell Westbrook.
Instead, he’s embracing it.
Nike announced the newest colorway of Durant’s signature KD 10 shoe on Tuesday, a red and black flyknit shoe with a frosty white sole, dubbed the “KDX Red Velvet.” And in the picture of the announcement, the shoe is surrounded by red velvet cupcakes.
“With a style of play as smooth as velvet, KD is known for having the most fluid game in the game today,” Nike said in a news release. “Effortlessly making defenders look helpless, always ready to cook his next victim. He dominates the game with unrivaled versatility, forever motivated by the sweet taste of victory. At the end of the day, winning is all that matters and anything else is just icing on the cake. The KDX ‘Red Velvet’ celebrates the smoothest player in the game and his undying quest for the sweet taste of victory.”
Nike’s description aside, the messaging is pretty clear to anyone paying attention to Durant and Westbrook’s cold war the last year. After Durant announced his decision to join the Warriors in July 2016, Westbrook posted a single Instagram picture, a plate full of cupcakes, wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July.
What appeared to be an innocuous holiday well-wishing apparently had petty undertones, with the cupcakes being a jab directed at Durant. Kendrick Perkins used to refer to teammates as “cupcakes” when he perceived them being soft, an inside joke that carried on between Westbrook, Durant and Perkins while they were teammates, with them routinely calling one another cupcake on social media.
“Cupcake” became the rallying cry for Thunder fans in Durant’s return to Oklahoma City last season, with fans chanting it while Durant shot free throws, cupcake shirts scattered all over the arena and one fan even dressing up in a full cupcake costume.
The new colorway isn’t Durant’s first move at turning the cupcake narrative on its head. After the Warriors’ emphatic win in Durant’s return to OKC, he and his teammates celebrated by nabbing some of the cupcake shirts and wearing them postgame. Durant was spotted this offseason wearing a hat with a cupcake (topped with a ring). Now he has custom cupcake shoes and the ultimate kicker: He’s even making money off it.
The new Red Velvet colorway is available Friday.
When NBA star Kevin Durant talks, investors listen. At least they did Tuesday, as shares of Under Armour Inc. tumbled 3% after Durant trash-talked the brand on a popular podcast.
The Golden State Warriors’ All-Star forward, who has a shoe deal with Under Armour rival Nike Inc. NKE, -0.32% , made the comments on an episode of The Ringer’s “Bill Simmons Podcast” that was posted Monday.
In the podcast, Simmons asked Durant why the University of Maryland — a onetime college basketball powerhouse — couldn’t recruit top players anymore. Durant said the school’s deal with Under Armour was a factor.
“I think a lot of kids, to be honest, they don’t choose Maryland unless they play in like an Under Armour system coming up,” Durant, a native of Maryland, said. “Shoe companies have a real, real big influence on where these kids go.”
Durant’s comments came at the expense of his All-Star teammate, Stephen Curry, who has an endorsement contract estimated at $4 million a year with Under Armour, as well as an equity stake in the company.
Durant said he hadn’t discussed with Curry his thoughts that nobody wants to play in Under Armour. “Nah, but come on man, everybody knows that. They just don’t want to say nothing.”
Under Armour UAA, -1.22% finished the day down 3%, at $16.43. Its shares are down 43% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s SPX, +0.46% 9% gain. Nike closed 2% lower on Tuesday.
Also weighing on Under Armour and Nike’s shares Tuesday was ailing retailer Finish Line’s FINL, -3.06% move to slash its annual financial targets. Both Under Armour and Nike are reeling this year from weak sneaker sales, though Adidas ADS, +1.80% has bucked the trend, a Barron’s story noted on Tuesday.