Kevin Durant picked the right time to unveil his ninth signature shoe, the Nike KD 9, to the public. After saying earlier in the year that he was saving the shoe until the summer for when he suits up for Team USA, Durant surprised us all when wore the KD 9 in a blowout win against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. Dressed up in the Cool Grey colorway, new KD and his new shoes reminded us of old KD and his old shoes when he was competing for the title of best player on the planet and bringing the fight to the guy who many believe is the best right now in Steph Curry.
This June the Nike KD 9 will debut for $150. It’s an amazing transition from where it was back in June 2015 when the Nike KD 8 was priced at $180 and it’s a far cry from when the Nike KD 4 debuted in 2011 and was priced at $95. How did we go from $95 to $180 and back to $150 in 2016? Since when does Nike drop the price on a signature shoe? Let’s take a look back in the timeline and see where things changed for KD and where it fell off the rails a little bit.
2011 – The Nike Zoom KD 4 Crosses Over
The 2011-12 NBA season seems like such a long time ago now, but that was when Kevin Durant ascended to true superstardom and led his Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals for what many believed would be the first of many times. But before any of that went down, there was the matter of an NBA lockout that needed to be settled. With regular season games canceled until Christmas of that year, the 2011 lockout might have been the best thing for Kevin Durant and his brand. Instead of locking himself in the gym and working out for hours on end – which he also did – Durant branded himself the People’s champion. He participated in every summer basketball league imaginable and hung around Oklahoma City, becoming a cult hero with antics like playing flag football with random people. With LeBron James’ infamous Decision still fresh in the minds of the people along with the lockout that players will inevitably be blamed for, Durant’s desire to get out there endeared him to the people.
At the same time anticipation was building for the Nike KD 4. While his first three signatures shoes with Nike were not as heavily hyped as LeBron or Kobe Bryant’s arrival at the swoosh, it was a great entry-level signature shoe line for kids and budget-conscious sneakerheads. The KD 4 was a step up in terms of design, accessibility and hype as Nike smartly debuted the shoe in a pair of colorways that were eaten up by the hypebeast and the sneakerheads and everybody in between with the NERF and the Weatherman colorways. Fall 2011 was really when sneaker culture started to hit the mainstream thanks to release like the Air Jordan 11 Concord, but you can’t discount the impact the KD 4 had. That was then followed up by a lot of solid releases including the Galaxy, Scoring Champ and Aunt Pearl, which paid homage to his late Aunt. Durant’s star rose even more with his Finals appearance that season and bringing home the gold medal during the 2012 Olympics. Nike was finally ready to make KD their third pillar alongside Kobe and LeBron.
2012 – The Nike KD 5 That Came And Went
Durant’s MVP season also saw the debut of the the Nike KD 5 and it was the first time that a Kevin Durant signature shoe would break $100. At $115, the KD 5 debuted in a DMV colorway that fans ate up. Following up the KD 4 was no easy task and it showed at retail because despite the great sales of limited releases like the All-Star, Aunt Pearl and many others, the desire for them was not the same as the fever for the KD 4. Looks like a lot of people took the criticism that it looked too much like a Hyperdunk to heart…
2013 – The Nike KD 6 Is An Instant Classic
Playing off the success of Durant’s fruitful summer of 2011, the summer of 2013 became the summer of the Nike KD 6. Eschewing to traditional launch of Nike basketball signature shoes in the fall
and making sure people forgot about the KD 5 as soon as possible Nike decided to move up the release of the KD 6 to make it a summer release. Once again Durant became a figure of summer league basketball, debuting new colorways of the Nike KD 6 in places like the Drew League.
The KD 6 went back to the low-cut style and even introduce a new way of lacing up your shoes casually. Ok, basically it was not bothering to lock the shoes up in any which way. It looked rather bizarre but it made made sense for some of the crazier colorways such as the Liger or the Preheat that sold very well for Nike. At $130, it still stung that a KD shoe cost that much, but the public did not seem to mind this time around.
2014 – Remember The Nike KD 7?
The summer theme would continue in 2014 with the Nike KD 7 set to be the highest profile shoe of Team USA since Durant was supposed to participate in the 2014 FIFA World Cup of basketball without Kobe or LeBron. However, Durant dropped out of the games, citing burnout and injuries for not participating in summer activities for the first time in a long time. Those issues would also manifest themselves in the regular season as Durant struggled to play consistently and had to wear the KD 6 because they were a better fit for his custom orthotics than the KD 7. As a result, we rarely saw Durant wear the shoes on the court.
Then there was also the matter of whether or not Durant was going to stay at Nike or leave for Under Armour. While it’s hard to calculate what effect if any that had on the fans, it’s safe to say there are some – a very vocal minority – people out there who were probably hurt by KD even considering leaving their beloved swoosh and swore off him and his kicks.
Despite his playing troubles, we saw some very popular KD 7s sell out quick, including the debut USA colorway and its Gold Medal PRM version, the Aunt Pearl and the What The were well-received. But we also saw plenty of KD 7s sit on shelves, with several even hitting Nike outlet stores. Were KD’s fans growing weary of the signature line and looking for something new or were they becoming smarter consumers and waiting for the kicks they want to drop to a price more agreeable to them?
2015 – The Nike KD 8 Fails To Register
2015 is the year when the proverbial S hit the F. Despite being a technological marvel with its Flyweave upper and new Zoom Air, sneakerheads have not been as responsive to the newest KD as they were in years past. Colorways that used to mean automatic sellouts like the Aunt Pearl, N7 and Black History Month were now sitting on stores, desperately waiting for price drops like all the general release colorways. What world do we live in that an Aunt Pearl colorway just sits on a store shelf for $99?
Despite our initial belief that there is a price ceiling for kicks, sneakerheads understand that shoes prices do go up. But judging from the success of certain remastered Jordan retros, the Kobe Black Mamba Pack and the adidas NMD, a high price tag doesn’t matter as long as the shoe is well-designed, correctly hyped with a certain segment caring about its resale value. The days when people would buy every general release in the hopes of getting plenty of lights on social media and reselling them for double or triple they’re worth are over and from its ashes rose a smarter consumer. Unless it is a very special release – yet sometimes those special releases don’t even come close to astronomical high numbers of the past – think of the past couple of years with KD shoes sitting on shelves as the market correcting itself. The sneakerheads pushed back and were not accepting of skyrocketing prices, so Nike realized this and dropped the price of the Nike KD 9 to $150 when they could have easily raised it up to $200 as a mea culpa. A similar situation took place with the adidas and Derrick Rose a few years back when they too dropped the price on Rose’s line but that’s another sad story for another time…
2016 – ?
We got an early look at the Nike KD 9 a few months ago during a Nike Innovation Summit event in New York City. Based on the initial impressions there, the KD 9 looks to rebound from the lackluster public response to the KD 8. It could have easily sold it for $200, dropped a crazy multicolor option and watch the fans go apes**t over it. $150 is not impulse buy territory by any means, but it’s a lot more reasonable to a sneakerhead that has been there since KD really took off.
The truth is we miss the old KD, the MVP KD, the real nice KD, the scoring champ KD with the midfoot strap KD. Ok, maybe not that last part, but it wouldn’t it be so KD to put a midfoot strap on a Flyknit shoe though?