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Durant deal could shift balance of sneaker power

Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City ThunderJohn W. McDonough Sports Illustrated

For years, the basketball apparel wars have been about two combatants: Nike and Adidas. But the swoosh and the bars may be getting a new rival: Under Armour.

The Baltimore-based sports apparel company has offered NBA superstar Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder a 10-year, nearly $250 million deal, according USA Today, citing an anonymous source. Although Under Armour (UA) has other NBA players on its roster including Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons, signing reigning MVP Durant would instantly make the company a more visible player in the shoe and clothing market.

The offer would also give Durant stock options, royalties and help building a community recreation center, according to USA Today.

Durant signed a 7-year, $70 million deal with Nike (NKE) in 2007. Even if Nike loses Durant, it still has endorsement deals with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, not to mention golfers like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

German company Adidas (ADDDF), meanwhile, has signed NBA stars including Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan, plus athletes like retired soccer player David Beckham and Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi.

If Durant joins Under Armour, he’d have as fellow endorsers not just Curry and Jennings, but also New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and American skier Lindsay Vonn.