A week ago the OKC Thunder looked unstoppable. Having sent the Spurs packing, the Thunder rolled into the Western Conference Finals against Golden State and put the defending champion Warriors on their heels. A week ago billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the Thunder was his new favorite to take the NBA title and the Thunder promptly went up 3 games to 1 against Golden State. Now it's 3-3 with a decisive Game 7 scheduled for Monday night.
There's one interested party who may not, despite his close business and personal relationship with Kevin Durant, be rooting for the Thunder -- at least not deep down inside. That's Jay Z. The famous hip hop artist and business mogul is essentially Kevin Durant's agent through his management company, Roc Nation Sports. He forced Nike to commit to a massive payday for Durant in 2014 after dangling the then-MVP in front of upstart Under Armour. Jay Z is expected to play similar hardball this summer during Durant's free agency. Here are 5 reasons why Jay Z could/should be secretly rooting against the Thunder in Game 7.
- If Durant wins a championship with OKC, he'll stay and try to repeat. If he doesn't, he'll be more likely to leave.
- If Durant stays in OKC, he's pretty much tapped out on his endorsement potential in that small market.
- If Durant and OKC lose, his exit is much easier to orchestrate without damaging his brand, which includes a reputation for being a loyal team guy.
- Large markets like Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles are very interested in Durant. Those markets increase Durant's earning power by orders of magnitude.
- If Durant makes it past Golden State and has an epic battle with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, there will be renewed interest in staying -- and leaving could be more damaging to his reputation. For Jay Z, a conference finals loss is easiest to navigate. He can claim OKC wasn't as close as it seemed, didn't put pieces in place to support a Durant championship opportunity.