The Lakers were missing LeBron James and Anthony Davis due to injury. The Nets were missing James Harden because of a hamstring strain, and Kyrie Irving was ejected (along with Dennis Shroder) just a few minutes into the third quarter.
That left Kevin Durant as the only superstar on the Barclays Center court on Saturday — the perfect opportunity for the 2014 MVP to showcase his new sneakers.
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Durant Debuts the KD14
Durant and Nike on Saturday introduced the KD14, the latest model in the 11-time All-Star’s signature sneaker line. The release puts Durant in elite company; he became only the third player in NBA history to wear a 14th model of a signature series, joining Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Take your game further.
The new KD14 improves on the energy return and responsiveness that’s been a staple in @KDTrey5’s signature line.
The Black/White colorway arrives starting today in select regions, April 14 in North America.
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) April 10, 2021
Durant first signed with Nike as a rookie in 2007 to what was at the time the second-largest rookie endorsement deal in NBA history.
Durant debuted his new kicks during Saturday’s game in Brooklyn.
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) April 11, 2021
KD14 Features a Key Design Detail
The strap is back.
The midfoot strap on the KD14 is a nod to one of Durant’s most iconic sneakers, the KD4. It’s the first time the midfoot strap returns to the signature series since the KD7.
“It’s been a while since we incorporated the strap, which excites me,” Durant said in a Nike press release, per CBS Sports. “My other favorite part about the shoe is the cushioning, which helps me feel low to the ground and still helps give me some of that energy back.”
This strap is different than any previous in the line, though. As ESPN’s Nick DePaula noted, Durant fully leans into his “Slim Reaper” nickname with the KD14, with the strap shape inspired by a scythe.
Two distinct design details on the KD 14:
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) April 11, 2021
The KD14 is the first model designed by Nike’s Ben Nethongkome, who has also been designing Kyrie Irving’s signature line since the Kyrie 4, according to DePaula.
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Durant Embracing ‘Slim Reaper’ — Finally
Durant’s “Slim Reaper” nickname is a play on “Grim Reaper”, of course. The 32-year-old’s slim physique was the inspiration.
Earlier in his career, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward didn’t exactly love it.
“That name is what it is,” Durant said in 2014, according to CBS Sports. “It’s cool to have a nickname somebody else gave to you. It’s kind of weird if you make your own nickname up. But to have that out there, I guess, is cool. … I’m here to shine a bright light. I’m not here to be a guy of, I guess, death. We’ll see what happens with that, but I just like KD better.”
“Everybody’s been loving the name. I think I’m the only one that really doesn’t like it too much.”
But during a recent interview with Barstool Sports’ The Corp With A-Rod and Big Cat, Durant said he is now embracing the nickname. (43:46 mark).
“It wasn’t time (back then). But it’s time now,” Durant said. “Back then it was too good of a nickname for me just to have at that age.”