Kevin Durant has built one of the strongest brands in basketball by not caring about it

Professional Athlete Best Practices by Kevin Durant.

Sounds like a legitimate book title, doesn't it? I'd read it. It's come to the point where every action and public comment put forth by the Oklahoma City star is unanimously praised by anyone who chooses to comment on it. Through a focus on hoops and remaining humble, Kevin Durant has built one of the strongest and most respected brands in sports without ever intentionally doing so.

Borrowing a phrase from one of the greatest television ads ever, Kevin Durant does what I'd advise every athlete, team, company and individual to do: let your game speak.

Kevin Durant's philosophy and career goals—in the context of marketing and branding—are appropriately summed up in a recent interview with Dan Wiederer of The Fayetteville Observer regarding his time spent with USA Basketball. Here are his thoughts on what his Team USA experience could do to raise his global profile:

To be honest with you, I really don't care. I really don't. It would be cool for most people to know who the Oklahoma City Thunder are. That's what I'm about. I really don't care about my global brand or anything like that. I just want to come out here and be the best player. This has never been about raising my profile.

In a narcissistic reality-TV age that gave us "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," Durant's focused approach to bettering himself on the court and letting everything else take care of itself is a refreshing throwback to days when being great was more important than being famous.

Now, I'll give credit where credit is due as those at Goodwin Sports Management, including Nate Jones, have done a fantastic job simply staying out of Durant's way. It's shortsighted to say "hey, it's easy marketing an athlete with Durant's talent and attitude." In a few short weeks, LeBron's LRMR agency drove right over Chris Paul's image, stopped, and then backed over it again.

Yes, it's easy to let an athlete be himself when that 'self' is so admirable but those surrounding him could've easily pushed for more press, a bigger market or simply hid actions by Kevin Durant that made him so hilariously great. Those advising and representing Durant are owed a significant amount of credit for letting Durant call the shots.

Going forward, and stepping away from marketing only partially, the NBA of the next 5-10 years belongs to Kevin Durant and LeBron James. It's humble vs ego-centric, greatness vs fame and, to some, it might as well be good vs evil.

By positioning himself as the anti-star, Durant has done just the opposite. Kevin Durant is the standard for creating a respected brand in an age when the traits that define him—hard-working, humility and focus—are lost on most.

Photo credit: aaronisnotcool

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