Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Price of Integrity

I love the game of basketball. I have not loved the version that the Seattle Sonics have played the past couple of years. You may be aware that the Sonics now have a new owner, general manager, and coach. We also have said good-bye to our old stars (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) and hello to a new star, Kevin Durant.

Picked second in the NBA draft, Durant comes to the Sonics with the potential to be a superstar. That’s why the shoe companies have been pitching a lot of money his way for an endorsement deal.

According to the Seattle Times, Durant was offered $60 million by Nike for a 7 year endorsement deal. Adidas offered $70 million. Either is the second greatest deal ever offered to an unproven rookie. LeBron James signed a $90 million deal with Nike in 2003.

What would you do? I still play basketball two to three times a week and therefore still buy basketball shoes every year or so. Currently I’m wearing Adidas. My last pair was Nike. I like them both. My shoe buying decision always comes down to which shoe is on sale and costs less. I have little brand loyalty when it comes to basketball shoes.

However, Kevin Durant does have a strong preference about shoes. He chose the Nike deal. Why? He said that he had been wearing Nike since the 8th grade. Durant’s agent, Aaron Goodwin said, “It’s more authentic for him” to endorse Nike.

I’m truly impressed and shocked. The brand doesn’t matter to me but it does to him. Durant decided he wasn’t going to say that he liked Adidas best when he didn’t. That’s called integrity, when your outward behavior matches your inward convictions. That integrity cost Durant $10 million.

I’m now a fan of Durant and can’t wait to see more of this kid on the court. But, more than that, I’m challenged to examine my own integrity. Is there a price at which I would compromise a conviction? If so, what is that price and why do I have it?

We face issues and challenges every day with our work, the laws of the land, the IRS, and just simple truth telling with people that we love and some that we don’t like. My prayer is that God would form me on the inside in the likeness of Christ and that I would experience His grace and power to live that on the outside.


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